Govt offers to set up committee to look into farmers’ issues; Union reps firm on repeal of new laws

NEW DELHI, Dec 1 (Agencies): The government on Tuesday offered to set up a committee to look into issues raised by farmers protesting against new farm laws, but the proposal met with a cold response from representatives of 35 agitating organisations during their marathon meeting with three union ministers.
As the meeting continued for more than two hours, sources said the farmer representatives were unanimous in seeking repeal of the three laws that they have been terming as being against the interest of the farm community.
The protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the Centre’s farm laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.
The government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.
For the meeting at Vigyan Bhawan here, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar was accompanied by Railways and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, also an MP from Punjab.
“We are ready for a discussion to resolve their issues. Let’s see,” Tomar had told reporters before start of the meeting.
He further said the government will arrive at a solution after hearing the representatives of the farmer organisations.
“The farmer’s organisations rejected the government’s proposal to form a five-member committee to look into the issues related to the new farm laws,” Roopsingh Sanha, member of Bharat Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), told agency.
Sanha said he was informed about the stand taken by the representatives at the meeting by the farmer union’s president Joginder Singh Ugrahan over the phone. It is one of the largest blocks of farmers who have been protesting against the new laws.
The government side was, however, firm in its stand that a high-level committee must be formed to look into the issues and wanted the farmer representatives to further consider the proposal.
Heavy security arrangements were in place around the meeting venue.
Hours before the meeting, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Tomar and Goyal, along with BJP chief J P Nadda, had held marathon discussions over the farmers’ protest against the Centre’s new agriculture reform laws.
Peaceful sit-ins by farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, continued at the Singhu and Tikri borders with no untoward incident reported after Friday’s violence, while the numbers of protestors swelled at the Ghazipur border on Monday.
The opposition parties too stepped up the pressure, asking the Centre to “respect the democratic struggle” of the farmers and repeal the laws.
An earlier meeting on November 13 had failed to give any breakthrough and the next one was originally scheduled for December 3, but it got advanced due to the ongoing protests on Delhi borders.

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