The Union government hasn’t ruled out more concessions or amendments to the three farm laws and a set of recent proposals it sent out to farm unions should not be considered final, provided farmers restart negotiations and spell out their objections, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
The government has worked the back channels to bring farmer groups back to the negotiating table, the person cited above added, asking not to be named. In its back channel talks, the government has urged farm unions not to insist on the repeal of the three contentious farm laws as a precondition for the dialogue.
The government is open to working out additional concessions but a repeal of the laws is not an option, the person said. “The government believes that extensive safeguards for each and every apprehension can be included in the laws to put an end to all vulnerabilities of farmers through discussions. The proposals sent so far to the farmers are not final. This is the government’s position.”
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana are protesting a set of reforms they say will hurt their livelihoods. These changes include lifting restrictions on agribusiness engaged in farm trade, deregulating agricultural markets, allowing traders to stockpile essential commodities and a new contract farming regime. The person quoted above said a fresh invite for talks may be sent to farmers.
On Sunday, a top agricultural ministry bureaucrat wrote to Darshan Pal, a farm leader, asking him to clarify what objections farm unions had to the government’s last proposal on December 9. In the written proposal, the government had offered amendments to some provisions of the laws for greater oversight on deregulated markets, sparing farmers penalties for stubble burning, which cases pollution and promising to keep providing farmers subsidised power instead of direct cash transfer, but farm union said they won’t call off their agitation until the laws were fully repealed.
“The Modi government is fundamentally wrong in treating agriculture as a base for growth of corporates. We will launch a counter campaign against lies propagated by the PM, agriculture minister and the BJP,” said Avik Saha of Samyukt Kisan Morcha.
Farm unions haven’t shown any signs that they are interested in resuming dialogue with the government since calling off talks on December 8, citing a stalemate.