New Delhi: Farm unions protesting the three reform laws on Thursday rejected the centre’s proposal to suspend the laws for a limited period of time and said their agitation will continue for repealing the laws and making assured government purchases at support prices a legal entitlement.
On Wednesday the government had offered to suspend the laws for up to 18 months, continue the ongoing dialogue with unions and urged farmers to withdraw their agitation. Farm unions will convey their decision at a meeting with the government on Friday.
“In a full general body meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the proposal put forth by the government was rejected. A full repeal of the three central farm acts and enacting a legislation for remunerative MSP for all farmers were reiterated as pending demands of the movement," the unions said in a statement.
On 20 January, the government had extended the offer to suspend the laws for a limited period to placate farm unions who are planning to march with tractors into the national capital on 26 January, India’s Republic Day. The government proposal came during the tenth round of talks with farm unions. Earlier the unions had rejected an offer to amend the laws.
Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the coalition of farm unions leading the agitation, further said that in a meeting held with police officials on Thursday farmers were requested not to conduct the march. Farm unions, however, reiterated they will march with tractors on the outer ring road of Delhi on Republic Day.
According to a farmer leader who did not want to be named, the day-long discussion among unions was a difficult exercise in consensus building. One group was open give a counteroffer to the government to suspend the laws indefinitely till a mutually agreeable solution is reached. But some took a strong position and said they will not accept anything short of a repeal of the laws.
The Supreme Court had earlier (on 12 January) stayed the implementation of the laws and formed an expert committee. The three-member committee met on Thursday and discussed the laws with ten farmer associations from different states. However, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha which is negotiating with the government was not a part of these discussions since it had refused to appear before the court-appointed committee.
Over 200,000 farmers are camping at different entry points to Delhi for close to two months now with a demand to repeal the reform laws which they fear will lead to ‘corporate control’ of agriculture markets and weaken assured government purchases at support prices.