Lured by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s offer, leaders of Indian farmers’ unions have shown their willingness to meet federal ministers on Tuesday, as several thousand remained on the outskirts of capital New Delhi for 32nd day on Sunday demanding the withdrawal of controversial farm laws.
The prolonged protest forced Modi to offer farmers to hold parleys on Thursday. But, farmers persistently demand repeal of three new agricultural laws that “threaten their livelihoods.” If held on Tuesday, it would be seventh round of talks between government and farmers.
“We have decided to hold talks and suggest that talks be held on December 29 at 11am,” said Yogendra Yadav of the Swaraj India organisation.
Giving details of the letter sent to the government, Yadav said the top of the agenda was the demand of repealing the three laws, implemented in September.
The government, however, claims that it has liberated farmers from the clutches of dealers of wholesale markets who were forced to sell their produce at compromised rates. It adds that they will get good returns if they sell their products to large traders, retailers and food processors directly.
However, protesting farmers fear that the laws will pull apart regulated markets and the government will stop buying rice and wheat at guaranteed prices.
Farmers also oppose plans to impose heavy penalties for the burning of crop stubble, a key source of air pollution, in Tuesday’s meeting.
MODI’S LOSS: Meanwhile, local media reported on Saturday that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) lost one of its allies, the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, as its chief joined the farmers in the ongoing protest.
Darshan Pal, another farmer leader, said the protesters would hold a “tractor march” from the Singhu border on the outskirts of capital New Delhi on Wednesday.
“New year is coming. We are inviting the people of Delhi and the adjoining areas to come and celebrate their New Year on January 1, 2021, and have meals with us,” he said.
The Singhu border is New Delhi’s northern entrance from the Haryana state and is at present sealed by thousands of farmers.