It is not “logical” to include the MSP question in the talks, but ready to discuss all issues, the government tells farmers who protest

The Center again called on farmers’ unions to protest the resumption of the stalled talks and asked them to choose a convenient date to end the impasse over the three new agricultural reform laws. The Center, in its letter, said it was ready to deal with any issue that the unions wish to discuss in addition to those dealt with in previous shifts.

The effort to resume talks also comes as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to interact with farmers on Friday during a money transfer event under the PM-Kisan program. But farmers’ unions have said that the government’s latest letter to the talks is nothing more than propaganda against farmers to create the impression that they are not interested in dialogue and have called for the demolition of the new agricultural laws to be put on the agenda. to resume parliaments.

Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 40 farmers’ unions protesting at three Delhi border points – Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur – over the past 27 days, is likely to hold a meeting on Friday to discuss the Centre’s letter and respond formally. .

The Union Ministry of Agriculture while extending a new call, however, made it clear that it would not be “logical” to include any new minimum support price (MSP) questions on the agenda, saying it was out of reach of the new law. agricultural. However, the government said it would still like to discuss it along with all other issues. The Center told the unions it is ready to discuss “any issues raised by you”, a position that takes into account the additional conditions that the agricultural unions have set out in their letter to the government.

However, the unions have argued that the MSP cannot be separated from the demand to repeal the controversial laws, saying that the issue of a legal guarantee is a key part of their agitation. Farmers’ organizations require a legal guarantee that all agricultural products will only be purchased at MSP or higher, again at an MSP set with the C2 + 50% formula according to the recommendation of the National Farmers Commission.

“When the government sends the draft of such legislation (for the legally guaranteed realization of a profitable MSP for all agricultural products and for all farmers), we will give a detailed response without any delay,” the unions said.

The ministry also reiterated its readiness to find a “logical solution” to the problems raised by the protest of farmers’ unions.

With the push of a button on Friday, Prime Minister Modi will allow the transfer of over Rs 18,000 crore to over nine crore of beneficiary families. The amount will be the next installment of financial benefits to farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN), According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Modi will also interact with farmers from six states via video conference during the event. .

Congress, meanwhile, stepped up its attack on the government and petitioned President Ram Nath Kovind and called for a joint session of Parliament to repeal the laws, with party leader Rahul Gandhi arguing that democracy is only “imaginary” in India. Gandhi met with the president and delivered a memorandum claimed to have been signed by 2 crore of farmers and called for the repeal of the laws, saying they will not benefit farmers or workers. The Center rejected the request to repeal the laws, saying the reforms are beneficial to farmers.

Congressional leaders held a sit-in protest outside the party headquarters in the capital after they were prevented from marching to Rashtrapati Bhawan. The leaders, including Priyanka Gandhi, were arrested by police for violating banning orders. The BJP for its part has challenged Rahul Gandhi for an open debate on what Congress did for the welfare of farmers when he was in power and what the Modi government did for them, as it dismissed his allegations against the Center as “unfounded and illogical”.

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar accused Congress of ignoring farmers’ interests and keeping them poor to ensure cheap grain prices, and said the Modi government empowered them by implementing the Swaminathan Commission report to give them a remunerative price through MSP. In a three-page letter written to 40 farmer leaders, the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Vivek Aggarwal said: “I ask you again that the government has discussed all issues with an open heart and good intention to end the protest. and will continue. So. Please kindly suggest a date and time (for the next round of talks. “The previous five rounds of talks between the government and unions failed to break the deadlock Aggarwal asked union leaders to provide details on other issues they want to discuss The talks will be held in Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi at ministerial level, he said.

On MSP, he said agricultural laws have no connection with the pricing regime nor would they have any impact on the supply of agricultural products at fixed rates. This was said to the unions in every discussion and it was also made clear that the government is ready to provide written guarantees on MSP, he added.

“Any new question relating to the MSP, which is outside the scope of agricultural laws, is not logical to include in the talks. As previously informed, the government is ready to discuss all issues raised by farmers’ unions,” he noted. . Aggarwal said it was important to keep all doors open for discussion for the government. It is the government’s responsibility to listen to farmer organizations and farmers, and the government cannot deny this.

The open-hearted government held several rounds of discussions with farmers’ unions under the Samyukt Kisan Morcha and urged them to choose a date according to their convenience for the next round of talks, he added. Aggarwal’s letter came in response to Samyukt Kisan Morcha’s December 23 letter, through which he informed the government that farmers’ unions are ready for talks but asked him to send a “concrete proposal in writing instead of repeating proposals. rejected on meaningless amendments. “” The government does not take our demands seriously and writes letters every day. The new letter is nothing more than government created propaganda against us to give the impression that we are not interested in keeping interviews.

“The government should bring the repeal of the three agricultural laws to the agenda for a new round of dialogue,” Morcha leader Shiv Kumar Kakka told PTI. He said a legal guarantee from the MSP is an important part of farmers’ demands, which cannot be overlooked by the government.

In another development, two Uttar Pradesh farmers’ organizations met with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and urged him not to repeal the new farm laws. Kisan Mazdoor Sangh (KMS) and Kisan Sena (KS) made a statement, which also included a request to strengthen the dispute resolution system in case of problems in contract farming.

So far, at least 12 farming groups have extended their support for the laws, the previous ones coming from Uttarakhand, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, among others. In a major commitment to farmers, the BJP planned to ensure the participation of more than one million of them in thousands of locations nationwide on Friday, when Prime Minister Modi makes the transfer of Rs 18,000 crore to nine crore of farmers and interacts with a section of them.

BJP leaders, from Union ministers to its parliamentarians, MLA, all elected representatives as well as members of the organization, will travel across the country to participate in the program and also speak with farmers. The event coincides with the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee which the BJP celebrates every year as “good governance day” since he came to power at the Center in 2014.

The BJP ally and Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, meanwhile, said the new central agricultural laws needed many amendments and urged protesting farmers to make “concrete suggestions”. In a press conference in Chandigarh, the leader of the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) reiterated that he will resign the day he feels he is unable to guarantee the MSP for the products of the farmers of Haryana.