Farmer leaders to respond to the offer on Friday after their internal consultations
New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday proposed to suspend the three contentious farm laws for one or one-and-a-half years and set up a joint committee to discuss the laws to end the stalemate, but the farmers leaders did not immediately accept the proposal and said they will respond only after they hold internal consultations, possibly on Thursday. The two sides will meet again on Friday for the eleventh round of negotiations.
The government made this offer during the tenth round of talks with the representatives of 41 farmers’ unions at Vigyan Bhavan here. After the meeting, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said: “During the discussions, we said the government was ready to put on hold the farm laws for one year or one and a half years. I am happy the farmers’ unions have taken this very seriously and said they would consider it tomorrow (Thursday) and convey their decision on January 22.”
Ahead of the meeting which lasted for over five hours, Mr Tomar along with commerce minister Piyush Goyal met Union home minister Amit Shah. The home minister has been supervising all developments related to the farmers’ agitation, which has been going on for the last 56 days at the Delhi borders. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently called a meeting of top agriculture ministry officials and advised them to put the three laws on hold till the matter was sorted out between the two sides.
During the meeting, Mr Tomar told the union leaders the government was ready to give an undertaking in the Supreme Court that the new laws will not be implemented till the matter is fully resolved. He also offered to set up a committee of agricultural experts, the farmers’ unions and government representatives to discuss all the three laws clause by clause to resolve the matter.
The farmers’ leaders also raised the issue of NIA notices being served to some farmers, alleging it was being done just to harass those supporting the agitation, on which the government representatives said they would look into the matter.
The Supreme Court has already put on hold till further orders all the three farm laws. While staying the three farm laws, the Supreme Court-appointed a four-member panel to talk to farmers to end the stalemate. But the farmers’ leaders objected to the committee members’ names, saying they had already expressed their pro-farm laws views.
BKU leader B.S. Mann has already recused himself from the committee. The other three members of the committee are due to hold their first meeting with the stakeholders on Thursday. But the protesting farmers have made it clear they will not appear before the court-appointed panel.