STATE TIMES NEWS
New Delhi: The government on Wednesday asked protesting farmer unions to take part in the proceedings of the panel appointed by Supreme Court on the new agriculture laws, even as uncertainly prevails over the fate of the ninth-round of talks between the Centre and the farm bodies on January 15.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, are protesting at various Delhi borders since November last year against the laws and demanding that these be repealed.
The meeting is on as of now and both parties will decide whether to hold talks or not, Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary told PTI.
The last eight rounds of negotiations between the government and the unions have failed to resolve the crisis, with the Supreme Court on Tuesday staying the implementation of the legislations till further orders and setting up a four-member committee to end the impasse.
When asked about copies of the laws being burnt at protest sites on the occasion of Lohri, he said,”I want to request farmer leaders that nothing is going to happen if the copies of the laws are burnt. They should keep their views before the impartial committee set up by the court.”
“Don’t you think burning copies of the laws is disrespecting Parliament which passed these legislations?” Choudhary asked. Based on the report submitted by the panel, whatever decision is taken by the court, that will have to be accepted by all, he said.
“Crores of farmers across the country are watching this and they too are farmers. These laws are in the interest of farmers. In spite of this, the Supreme Court order has come and that is ‘sarva-manya hai’ (acceptable to all),” the minister said. The protesting farmer unions have said that they will not appear before the committee as they consider it to be “pro-government”, but have shown willingness to attend the ninth-round of talks.
The unions have said that they will not settle for anything less than a complete repeal of the laws.
Replying to a query related to January 15 meeting, Choudhary said that the date was fixed by both the parties during the last meeting held on January 8.
“A final decision will be taken considering what the unions leaders have to say on this. As of now, the meeting is as per schedule till will decide otherwise,” he said, emphasising that the process of discussion should continue.
On the government’s view on the Supreme Court order, the minister reiterated that the apex court’s decision was against the government’s wish.
“We did not want the laws that were passed in Parliament to be stayed. In spite of this, the Supreme Court order is ‘sarva-manya’. We welcome the Supreme Court order,” he said
Choudhary said that the court has set up a “neutral panel” which will take views of farmers and experts and then submit a report.
Regarding allegations made by farmer unions that panel members are in favour of laws, the minister said the Supreme Court has appointed neutral people in the committee.
“We have to accept the court’s decision. These members were in high post in the previous Congress government. I believe there is no politics in it. It is an neutral committee,” he said.
Unions are saying that the members in the committee had at some point supported the laws, but “I would like to say union leader Rakesh Tikait had also supported the laws,” Choudhary said.
“When the laws were passed, he had congratulated the prime minister saying that Mahendra Tikait’s soul must be in peace after 27 years and his dreams are being fulfilled through these laws,” he said.