Union home minister Amit Shah’s meeting with protesting farmers, indicating the involvement of the government’s highest level to resolve the deadlock over the contentious farm laws, failed to yield any result with both sides remaining firm on their positions.
The farmers refused to accept the government’s offer of amendment in the laws, sticking to their demand for a complete scrapping.
Owing to the late night development, the sixth meeting scheduled for Wednesday with agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar has been called off.
Hannan Mollah, the general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha, on Tuesday said: “No meeting will be held between farmers and the government tomorrow. The minister has said a proposal will be given to farmer leaders tomorrow. Farmer leaders will hold a meeting to discuss the proposal.”
However, Rakesh Tikait, spokesperson of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, said: “I would say that the meeting was positive. The government has taken cognizance of our demands and will give a draft to us tomorrow (Wednesday), which we will deliberate upon.”
Three Union ministers who have been leading the government’s consultations with the agitating farmers — agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, food minister Piyush Goyal and MoS for Commerce Som Parkash — also attended the meeting.
Some farmer leaders said they first expected the meeting would take place at Shah’s residence but the venue was shifted to National Agricultural Science Complex, Pusa.
Amid the ongoing farmers’ protest, a petition filed in the Supreme Court seeks direction to allow the protesting farmers to enter Delhi and requests the top court to frame guidelines to balance a citizen’s right to protest with another’s right to free access and move.
The plea, filed on behalf of advocate Reepak Kansal, wants the apex court to allow the farmers to protest at Jantar Mantar.
Meanwhile, the Bharat Bandh call given by the farmer unions on Tuesday received mixed response. While it garnered support from trade unions, various other organisations as well as 24 opposition parties, including the Congress, many states remained largely unaffected.
A joint delegation of opposition parties, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, will meet President Ram Nath Kovind at 5pm on Wednesday over the farm laws.
The government believes the new laws will give the farmers the liberty of selling their produce within the state or anywhere else in the country without any trade restriction. This will benefit them as they will be able to sell wherever they want and to whoever they wish to as per their monetary benefit.
There will be no need for any kind of license for traders to purchase agricultural produce from farmers in trade areas outside the APMC mandi. This will open doors for farmers as their agricultural products will be on display for a wider range of buyers, thereby facilitating ease of trade.
The farmers, on the other hand, fear that with the abolition of APMC mandis, they will have to sell their crops to corporate companies at one-and-a-half price. The concept of MSP will vanish and the risk of fraud due to removal of licence and registration will increase.
They also believe the new laws will fill the pockets of the big corporates while putting the small farmers at danger.
The three farm laws enacted in September by the Narendra Modi government have been projected as major reforms in the agriculture sector. However, the move fuelled widespread protests nationwide, while also acquiring support from foreign shores, including the US and London.