New Delhi, January 20
The central government has proposed submitting an affidavit in the Supreme Court of suspending the agri laws for a mutually-agreed period and creating a committee to look into farmers pending demands.
Farmer unions said they want a repeal of the new laws, but would still discuss this proposal on Thursday.
The government has offered to suspend the laws for 1.5 to 2 years, unions said.
The next meeting has been scheduled on January 22, at 12 noon.
Samyukta Kisan Morcha leader Darshan Pal said a string of meetings is planned for tomorrow to decide the issue.
“However, just because we have decided to discuss the proposal does not mean that we have backtracked from our demand of a repeal of the three laws,” he said.
Balbir Singh Rajewal said the government appears to be on the “backfoot”. First the 32 unions will discuss, then the matter will be taken up with organisations from across India, he said.
“Government is talking about submitting an affidavit in the Supreme Court of suspending the laws for a mutually-agreed period and creating a committee to look into our pending demands,” said Kavitha Kuruganti, who is part of the unions holding talks with the government.
The central government has also suggested setting up a committee for Minimum Support Price—a key concern that has led to opposition to the laws.
Earlier in the day, the central government had said it would not discuss the MSP until the deadlock over the laws is resolved, prompting farmer leaders to accuse the government of “running away from a discussion on MSP”.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar, who is one of two cabinet ministers who has been leading the discussions for nearly two months now, reportedly told farmers at the Wednesday meeting that they could approach the Supreme Court, because “many farmers were also supporting the laws”.
“Farmers presented multiple replies in parliament by this minister (Tomar) where he has stated that agriculture is a state subject, and in one reply has said that Agriculture Marketing is a state subject,” Kavitha Kuruganti, who is part of the unions holding talks with the government, said earlier in the day.
Farmers have repeatedly argued that agriculture was a state subject and that the central government could not impinge on it.
This is the tenth round of talks between the two. Talks before have failed to break a five-month-long deadlock over the three controversial laws. Farmers have repeatedly accused the government of not being serious about a resolution.
Farmers also flagged summons that farmer leaders have got from the National Investigation Agency.
BJP leaders said before the meeting that those people who “have not done anything wrong should not be worried about the NIA action”.
Baldev Singh Sirsa, whom the NIA has served summons, was present at Wednesday’s meeting.
Farmers meanwhile have said they would stick to the tractor rally as scheduled on January 26.
Sources said when the unions raised the issue of NIA summons to those related to the agitation, Tomar said he would like to assure them that no “innocent person will suffer”. “Kisi nirdosh vyakti pe karyavaahi nahi hogi,” Tomar was quoted as saying.
The issue related to the arrest of three farmers from Shimla was also raised, as also a letter purportedly written by the Delhi BJP asking party supporters to incite violence on January 26. While the letter, which was widely circulated on social media, has been established as “fake”, officials at the meeting are believed to have produced a complaint in this regard.