The government’s negotiations with farm unions to end the protests have reached a critical point with the Centre submitting in writing the amendments it proposes to the contentious three bills in along with an assurance on MSP.
Top sources in the government said the key amendments being proposed in the bills are an attempt to provide a tangible proposal to a number of unions along with the protestors who are not adamant on repealing the bills and have been pursuing reasonable demands.
The Centre’s proposals follow a four-hour meeting between 13 farm unions and the Government side led by Home Minister Amit Shah last night.
India today has accessed the key proposals which are likely to be submitted by the Governmet to unions as an olive branch to bring a peaceful end to the farmers’ protests
The following are the proposals
AMENDMENT TO APMC LAW
As per the proposed amendment, the APMC and Free-market mandis would have the same tax rate.
The bills had proposed that free market would not have taxes, the farmers had argued that the same should also be applicable on APMCs.
AMENDMENT TO DISPUTE RESOLUTION MECHANISM
The government has proposed Farmers tribunal to be formed or court protection against the corporates. Under the current bill, dispute resolution was at the SDM level. That means farmers who have a grievance with a sale have to approach the local SDMs.
GOVT PROPOSES AMENDMENT TO REGISTRATION SYSTEM
The Government is likely to propose that Open markets traders would have to be registered with proper verification. The law had suggested that a trader could indulge in purchases based on Pan Card.
AMENDMENT TO CONTRACT FARMING LAW
The Government has proposed assurance that in Contract farming, nothing will happen to the land of the farmer, or incase the contractor takes a loan, the land would not be mortgaged. The farmers had made this one of the key campaign issues claiming that they would lose the right to their land due to the provisions of the laws
ASSURANCE ON MINIMUM SUPPORT PRICE
The government is ready to provide the farmers in writing an assurance that the MSP system will not be jettisoned due to the new laws.
GOVT READY TO PROVIDE ASSURANCES ON PROCUREMENT
This was the issue that initially led to the farm stir as Punjab farmers under the current system that procures most of their produce used to have assured MSP. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar in August had issued an open letter assuring this but despite it, BJP ally Akali Dal walked out of the Council of Ministers and the NDA. This was due to the pressure exerted by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh who questioned the participation of Akali Dals’s Harsimrat Kaur as a minister in the Modi cabinet that cleared the farm ordinances.
GOVERNMENT READY TO TAKE BACK THE STUBBLE BURNING ORDINANCE AND ELECTRICITY ORDINANCE
The farmers have been demanding to scrap of tough penalties imposed by the law against stubble burning
The government has proposed to take back the FIRS and cases filed against the protesting farmers and union leaders
These amendments will be scrutinised by farm unions and they would revert back.
The Government has put into motion an attempt to arm the unions among the 60 who are steering the protests which are said to be chasing a less strident path.
On Friday last in a meeting of the unions before the Saturday meeting with the agriculture minister 20 odd were in favour of calling off the movement if the government agreed to bring a vital amendment to the existing laws. However, the aggressive unions pushed for a majority stand claiming that toning down the demands would provide the Government relief and it would revert to its stand of no changes.
Sources told India Today that the meeting on Tuesday had ended inconclusively. However, to keep the negotiations alive the unions had agreed to the Central government sending them a proposal on Wednesday on the amendments to its plans.
They had stuck to their demands of withdrawing the three farm laws. In addition, the Centre had also proposed written assurances on amendments and MSP.
On Tuesday Around 7.45 pm, the delegation of farmer leaders was taken to the International Guest House of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research for the meeting with the Union Home Minister. The meeting began at 9 pm with farmer leaders Ruldu Singh Mansa and Bodh Singh Mansa joining the meet late over confusion regarding the venue. After the meet farmer leader Hannah Mollah left the meeting threatening to boycott the scheduled meet between farmers and the central government on Wednesday.
“The Minister [Amit Shah] has said that a proposal will be given to the farmer leaders tomorrow. Farmer leaders will hold a meeting over the government’s proposal,” Hannan Mollah said after he walked out of the meeting venue.
The delegation of 13 farmer leaders that met Union Home Minister Amit Shah included Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson Rakesh Takait, BKU Haryana president Gurnam Singh Chaduni, general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha Hannan Mollah, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdur Mahasangh president Shiv Kumar Kakka, BKU president Balbir Singh Rajewal, All India Kisan Mahasabha president Ruldu Singh Mansa, Manjit Singh Rai, and Buta Singh Burjgill.
Other members of the delegation included BKU (Lakhowal) general secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal, Darshan Pal, Kulwant Singh Sandhu, Bodh Singh Mansa, and Jagjit Singh Dhaliwal.
The Govt through the meeting attempted to work on the fault lines between the farmers’ unions. Leaders like Joginder Singh Ugrahan questioned the motive of the central government inviting leaders for talks a day before the scheduled discussion. Head of the BKU (Ugrahan), one of the largest farmers’ outfits part of the ongoing agitation, Joginder Singh Ugrahan was not invited to the meeting on Tuesday.