The government on Tuesday refrained from giving a categorical reply to a parliament question as to whether it was considering scrapping the farm laws in near future. It, however, said in Lok Sabha that they “will remain open” to discussions with agitating farmers to resolve the issue.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on July 8 had said that the Centre would not repeal the three farm laws while it was ready to hold talks with the agitating farmers on the provisions of the Acts.
In written replies on several questions related to farmers’ protest, Tomar said: “Some of the farmers’ unions have been protesting against newly enacted farm laws and the main demands of agitating farmers’ unions regarding the three farm laws, were for their repeal. Various efforts have been made by the government to end the protests. However, farmer unions never agreed to discuss except the demand for repeal.”
Tomar added that the “Government is always open to discussion with farmers union and will remain open to discussion with agitating farmers to resolve the issue.”
Listing out details of the discussions held with farmers until January 22, the minister said the government had held 11 rounds of negotiations with agitating farmers’ unions to resolve the issues.
“The government has been engaged in serious, sensitive and active discussions with the farmers’ unions to resolve the issues. During various rounds of discussions, the government continuously requested the unions to discuss the provisions of the farm laws, so that if there is an objection to any provision, the advancement can be made towards a resolution of those,” Tomar said.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at different border points of Delhi for nearly eight months demanding repeal of the three contentious laws and to ensure a legally guaranteed Minimum Support Price (MSP) mechanism. The Supreme Court in January put on hold implementation of the three laws till further order. A committee set up by the apex court has since submitted its report.
In a separate question as to whether the government is aware that many agitating farmers have died or fallen ill during the movement, Tomar said: “Government of India has no such record. However, the government, during a discussion with farmers’ union, appealed to them that children and elders especially women should be allowed to go home given the cold and Covid-19 situation.”
The minister also ruled out any compensation plan for the families of the farmers who died during the movement.