Firm on demand of repealing farm laws, farmers say decision on future action after tractor parade

NEW DELHI: Protesting farmer leaders on Saturday remained firm on their demand of a complete repeal of the three contentious farm laws, and said their immediate focus is on the January 26 tractor parade.

The union leaders said the next course of action will be decided only after the tractor parade.

Farmer leaders held a marathon meeting on Saturday to reconsider the government’s proposal to put the legislations on hold for 18 months, but no consensus could be reached.

This came a day after the government asked the farmer leaders to revert by Saturday in case they agree to its proposal to suspend the legislations.

“Since the beginning of our agitation, our demand is very clear. We want a complete repeal of these three laws, and we will not settle for anything less than the repeal of the new farm laws,” Haryana Bharatiya Kisan Union chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni told PTI.

He said that farmer unions are currently focusing on their proposed January 26 tractor parade, and after Republic Day, they will decide on the next course of action.

Unlike the last 10 rounds of talks between the government and the farmer union leaders, the 11th round on Friday saw both sides hardening their positions.

They could not even reach a decision on the next date for a meeting.

This followed a big climbdown made by the Centre in the talks on Wednesday when it offered to suspend the laws for 1-1.5 years and form a joint committee to find solutions, in return for protesting farmers going back to their respective homes from Delhi borders.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at several Delhi border points since November 28 last year, demanding a repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee on MSP for their crops.

Enacted in September last year, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their products anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed their apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of MSP and do away with the ‘mandi’ (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.