A day after Parliament cleared a Bill to repeal the three new agriculture laws which triggered farmer protests last year, the government Tuesday sought names of five representatives from the protesting farm unions for inclusion in a committee proposed by the Prime Minister to discuss issues like promotion of zero-budgeting farming and making MSP more “effective and transparent”.
Kulwant Singh Sandhu, general secretary of Jamhuri Kisan Sabha, told The Indian Express: “We have received a message from the government regarding nomination of names of five people to be included in the committee. The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) will meet on Wednesday to decide the names of the five people comprising farm union leaders and experts.”
He said the farm laws have been repealed and if their other demands such as forming a committee on MSP and discussing its modalities, and withdrawal of FIRs against farmers are also met, “it will be a strong point to lift the dharna” by farmers who have been protesting at Delhi’s borders for a year now.
The SKM, spearheading the protest by farmers, is expected to announce its future course of action on December 4.
Jagmohan Singh Patiala, general secretary of BKU (Dakaunda), too said: “Now we should start discussions about lifting dharnas from the borders, at places in Punjab and other states as well. This discussion should start within the unions now.”
“The government approached us on Tuesday, seeking names of five farmer union leaders to be part of the MSP committee. They gave us a verbal assurance that letters have been sent to all states to withdraw cases lodged against farmers. But there is nothing in writing yet. The Home Ministry is in constant touch with us. Hence, I believe most demands have been met,” he said.
“We have been told that the Electricity (Amendment) Bill will not be introduced in Parliament and the section penalising farmers for burning stubble in the pollution control ordinance has been withdrawn. But most things have only been informed to us verbally, not in writing,” he said.
Sandhu said “all FIRs should be withdrawn rather than following a pick-and-choose policy… Let us see what comes out of the meeting between Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Haryana farmer unions on Wednesday.”
Dr Darshan Pal, president of Krantikari Kisan Union, said: “I came to know that the government has asked for names of five representatives of farmers for the MSP committee. But no one approached me.”
The SKM, in a statement Tuesday night, said: “SKM confirms that there was a telephone call from the Government of India to a Punjab farmer union leader, wherein the Government wanted five names to be suggested from SKM’s side for a committee. However, we have received no written communication and no details are available so far about what this Committee is about, its mandate or Terms of Reference. In the absence of such details, it would be premature to comment on this issue.”
On the meeting between Khattar and Haryana farm union leaders, the SKM said: “We wish to clarify that we have not received any formal or informal invitation from the Haryana government so far. No meeting has been scheduled yet.”
The statement was issued by Balbir Singh Rajewal, Dr Darshan Pal, Gurnam Singh Charuni, Hannan Mollah, Jagjit Singh Dallewal, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Shivkumar Sharma ‘Kakkaji’, Yudhvir Singh and Yogendra Yadav.