Farmers’ organisations on Wednesday stuck to their demand that the minimum support price (MSP) be made statutory but appeared to have climbed down from the intransigent position that nothing less than repeal of three new farm laws is acceptable to them.
Speaking to FE, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar insisted that the farmers protesting on the borders of Delhi are not demanding legal guarantee for MSP, while “some others” ask for it.
On the other hand, farmer leaders said they have sent a reply to the government on its proposals for resumption of talks and sought some “concrete suggestions” from the government.
“We do not want a gift, we want rightful price for our produce. Nothing less than the legal guarantee on MSP is possible to break the deadlock and farmers are ready for talks,” said Yogendra Yadav, working group member of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee.
Yadav also said that these proposals sent by the government on December 9 were nothing but repetition of what was discussed on December 5, which farmers already rejected.
In the letter addressed to Vivek Agarwal, a joint secretary in agriculture ministry, Darshan Pal of Samyukta Kisan Morcha, has said: “We want to assure you that agitating farmers are ready for talks. We are waiting for when the government will take it forward with an open mind. It is requested that instead of reiterating rejected proposals, you may please send any concrete proposals as agenda of the discussion.
“On MSP, there is nothing in your proposal that befits a reply. You talked about written assurance on MSP while farmer organisations are demanding legal guarantee for selling at MSP and fixing the prices at C2 costs as recommended by Swaminathan Commission.”
In a sign that the government is also equally determined not to budge from its stated position that the laws won’t be repealed, Tomar on Wednesday continued his meeting with different groups and one such group claimed to have garnered signatures of 6 lakh farmers supporting the laws. Tomar reiterated his offer of dialogue on the provisions of the three laws.
More than one lakh farmers have been protesting outside Delhi borders since November 26 demanding repeal of the three farm laws, enacted recently to unshackle Indian agriculture from various restrictions.
The Centre last week ruled out the possibility of putting on hold the new farm laws until a proposed committee of independent experts is constituted to facilitate talks with protesting farmers. Expressing the Centre’s inability to heed the Supreme Court’s (SC) suggestion to “assure that no executive action under the new laws” will be initiated, attorney general KK Venugopal said no farmer will then come for registration. Nevertheless, he said he would seek the Centre’s instructions on the matter.
Meanwhile, prime minister Narendra Modi will disburse Rs 18,000 crore to bank accounts of 9 crore farmers as last instalment of PM-Kisan scheme for FY21 on December 25 through direct benefit transfer (DBT). He will also interact with 6 farmers of 6 states who have benefited from the Centre’s various agricultural schemes. The Centre has so far disbursed Rs 96,000 crore to 10.59 crore farmers under PM-Kisan since its launch in 2019.