Agriculture minister says ‘progressive’ Haryana farmers submitted memorandum backing new farm laws.

Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Saturday a group of “progressive farmers’ leaders” have submitted a memorandum supporting the three farm laws liberalising agricultural markets, which have triggered protests by agriculturists near the national capital’s borders and across the country. The farm minister’s comments came after his meeting with farmers’ leaders from Haryana at Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi.

“They also shared their experiences on how these laws are benefitting them,” Tomar was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Farmers mostly from Punjab and Haryana have led the agitation since last month and have been protesting in and around the Capital.

According to PTI, a delegation of 29 farmers from Haryana met agriculture minister Tomar to extend their support to the new legislation and threatened to stage a protest if those are repealed. The delegation was led by Bharatiya Kisan Union’s (Mann) Haryana state leader Guni Prakash and it submitted a “letter of support” to Tomar on the farm laws passed by Parliament in September and demanded that the government must continue with these laws.

“We will also protest if the government repeals the laws. We have given a memorandum to all districts,” Prakash told reporters after the meeting. “Everyone has a right to protest. They have, so do we. We are in support of the three laws, but this protest is being led by Leftists and those who are violent,” he said.

Prakash also claimed that the ongoing farmers’ agitation is no longer a peasant movement. “It has taken political colour. Farmers will get real freedom through these three laws,” he said.

This was the second group of farmers from Haryana which met Tomar and extended support to the farm laws. The first group had met the minister on December 7.

The leader of Sanyukta Kisan Andolan Kamal Preet Singh Pannu had earlier in the day that farmers’ leaders will go on hunger strike on December 14 at Delhi’s Singhu border, PTI reported. “If the government wants to hold talks, we are ready. But we will first discuss the repeal of the three legislation,” Pannu said demanding the complete withdrawal of the three laws.

“On December 14, all farmer leaders will sit on a fast sharing same stage at Singhu border. We want the government to take back three Farm bills, we’re not in favour of amendments,” he said.

Tomar’s meeting with the farmers’ group came hours after Haryana’s deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala met agriculture minister Tomar and defence minister Rajnath Singh. The Jannayak Janta Party leader had said after the meetings that he discussed the matter with the Union ministers and expressed hope that a way will be found with mutual consent.

Chautala also expressed hope that the final round of talks between the government and farmers’ unions over the farm laws will be held within the next 24 to 48 hours and they will reach a conclusion over the issue, according to ANI. “The way Centre is holding talks they also want a resolution of the issue. I am hopeful that in 24 to 48 hours final round of talks will be held between the central government and farmers’ leaders and will lead to a conclusive result,” Chautala said.

“It is my responsibility as a representative of farmers to secure their rights. I discussed the matter with Union Ministers, I am hopeful that a way will be found with mutual consent and the standoff will be resolved. The Centre is positive,” he told ANI.

The Centre and the agitating farmers have held at least six rounds of talks so far and no breakthrough has been so far. Farmers have stuck to their demand for a repeal of the laws, despite the government sending them a draft proposal to amend specific issues without abolishing the legislations.

The three laws, the government has said, will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell their products anywhere in the country. However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price (MSP) and scrap the mandis or wholesale markets, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. The Centre has maintained the MSP scheme and the mandi system would continue and would rather be improved and strengthened further.

Source- Hindustan Times.

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