NEW DELHI/BATHINDA: Looking to mount pressure on the Centre ahead of the fifth round of talks on Saturday, farmers’ unions opposed to the new agri laws have called for a Bharat bandh on December 8. They will also go ahead with planned anti-government protests across the country on Saturday.
A decision on the bandh was taken in a meeting of unions from Punjab, Haryana, UP and other states on Friday with everyone expressing doubts over the outcome of the fifth round of talks. It was decided by a voice vote their representatives at the talks would ask the Centre upfront to scrap the laws and that nothing less would do. “Or else, we may break the talks midway,” said H S Lakhowal, BKU-Lakhowal general secretary. BKU Dakonda’s Jagmohan Singh warned of blocking “more border points with Delhi”.
Want written guarantee about MSP on all crops: Kisan outfit
The issue before the farmers, the agitators said, was not about one particular clause — the Centre has indicated some amendments that stop well short of scrapping the laws — but about the direction in which the Centre was taking farming in the country.
“The government has, so far, not been scrapped the laws. As a mark of our protest, we will burn effigies of PM Modi across the country on Saturday,” said H S Lakhowal, BKU-Lakhowal general secretary. “We also want written guarantee about MSP on all crops and assured purchase of crops by state procurement agencies.”
The hardening of positions, even though the farm unions prepare for talks, can be read as pressure tactics but if they persist with the demand, Saturday may not see any breakthrough. Former CPM MP Hannan Mollah, general secretary of All India Kisan Sabha, said, “We need to take this protest forward in support of farmers’ demands. The government has to take back the farm laws.” Both Lakhowal and Mollah attended the talks at Vigyan Bhawan on Thursday.
On the other hand, officials brainstormed on key objections raised in the fourth round of meeting by farmers and kept their draft ready to bring some changes as promised for consideration by agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar.