Farmers reject offer of holding farm laws in abeyance

“Farmers stand firmly united for a total repeal, anyone settling for a lesser deal will no longer be a part of the movement”

Politics

January 22, 2021

/ By / New Delhi

Farmers reject offer of holding farm laws in abeyance

Farmers at Singhu border on the occasion of Guru Govind Singh Jayanti (MIG photos/Aman Kanojiya)

As the 11th round of talks between the government and leaders of farmers protesting against the three farm laws gets underway in New Delhi today, farmers insist they will settle for nothing less than a repeal of the laws, rejecting the latest offer by the government to hold the abeyance for 18 months.

After the 10th round of talks with the government, media reports said a middle ground could be found over the latest offer of the government to hold the farm laws in abeyance for about 18 months. Media also quoted farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka, who has participated in all the 10 meetings held with the government so far, as saying “We do not trust the committee, but the government has offered to put the laws on hold… It is definitely a matter to consider. We will discuss this and eventually try to form an opinion.”

But these speculations were quickly and firmly put to rest by several farmers as well as various members of the coordination committee of about 500 unions of farmers, who said that their sole objective of the protest was to seek a total repeal of the laws, nothing less.

“We are not going to agree even if the government is ready to put the farm laws on hold for two years. Even the Supreme Court has asked you to put it on hold and the government too is keen on putting it on hold for two years, then what problem does it have in repealing it? If the government is ashamed to repeal the laws, then they can simply say that they are planning to put it on hold till their government is in power,” D Sunilam, from All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Samiti and a former MLA from Madhya Pradesh tells Media India Group

Sunilam insists that even the reports that the farmer leaders would seriously consider the offer of putting farm laws on hold were far from accurate. “The abeyance thing was discussed in the very first meeting itself. At that time also the proposal was rejected as well as the matter of committee was also rejected. The whole discussion of farmers considering the abeyance proposal is not true,” he says.

“Our organisation All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Samiti that consists of 250 members has decided already what will our decision be. We have decided that we are only going to agree if they repeal the law. We are not okay with the abeyance. Now if we have decided this, and if all the farmers from Punjab decide on this, then Sanyukta Kisan Morcha will not take a different stand. We will go hand in hand,” Sunilam told Media India Group before the meeting of all the 500 unions under the banner of Sanyukta Kisan Morcha took place late on Thursday.

Sunilam’s statements were firmly backed by several farmers on the ground at Singhu border which has been their home for the past 58 days as tens of thousands of farmers stay put at various entry points to the national capital.

“What sense does it make to put the bill on hold for two years? The 2022 elections will come, so what’s the use of this two years?  Our protest will continue till the government does not repeal the farm laws. The government should listen to the farmers. If they do so, farmers from all over will praise the government only. If they are ready to put the bill on hold for two years, then why aren’t they ready to repeal it?” says Gurdeep Singh, who, along with his tractor, has become an icon of the protest at Singhu border where his tractor was the first to reach Delhi’s borders on November 27.

Sunilam may have the answer to Singh’s question. “The only reason why the government cannot repeal these laws is because of the commitments made to the big corporate houses. If you take money for some work from someone then you have to get the work done,” he says.

As predicted by Sunilam, the Sanyukta Kisan Morcha at its meeting on Thursday toed the popular opinion amongst the farmers and rejected the government offer of putting the laws in abeyance. The meeting also offered homage to the 147 farmers who have so far died in the protest nationwide.

The Morcha says that in its meeting with the police, it insisted on organising a peaceful tractor rally in Delhi on January 26 to mark the Republic Day. In its press communique, it adds that rallies would be organised all across the country on the occasion and that the movement has become nationwide by now.

The farmers also say that though the government has been trying to break the unity of the farmers since the protest began, the unity is stronger than ever.

“The government is trying to break the movement. But anyone who breaks they know that will have nothing to do with the farmers. This is not Anna Hazare’s movement where what Anna told will be accepted. Here if one organisation says something, it doesn’t mean that all will follow the organisation,” says Sunilam, alleging that union home minister Amit Shah had tried to break the movement right in the beginning by trying to speak to each farmer leader individually. However, the attempts fell flat.

However, with the R-Day approaching, the government seems to have become desperate to get the farmers to call off their tractor rally in Delhi on January 26. Farmers and their leaders say they are aware of the pressure that the movement would be under in the days to come, but that the morale of the movement and the unity both remain uncontestably high.

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