Repeal the controversial laws, enact new after wide consultations with stakeholders
And so after 11th round of failed negotiations the government on Friday (the 22nd January ) finally told the farmers “enough is enough” we have no further concession to offer it is for you to decide your course of action. It may be noted that the government has finally offered to suspend the controversial three farm laws for 12 to 18 months but the farmers have rejected this offer too saying that they are ready to accept nothing short of repealing the laws. According to the information the atmosphere during the final meeting was tense from the very beginning both sides were face to face for about three hours but the talks hardly took twenty minutes during which union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar told union leaders that the government has already presented its best offer and urged the farmer’s leaders to reconsider their stand and if your response is positive the talks may resume any time even the next day (Saturday). Farmer’s leaders in the meeting put a joint ace and rejected the offer unanimously reiterating their stand that the all three three laws must be repealed and nothing else is acceptable to them. Out side the meeting room however, some leaders are believed to be of the opinion that talks must continue ( whether they showing some flexibility is not clear ?) but majority of them maintained their hardline approach vowing to intensify their agitation. Had the government succeeded in sowing the seed of dissent and differences among the farm leaders is the natural question that has arised due to this difference of opinion. If so it will be big victory for the government and a great damage to to farmer’s movement.
While the government is of the opinion that these are best laws in the interest of farming community but out of respect for agitating farmers and their leaders we have decided to put them on hold for 12 to 18 months, a committee has also been formed to resolve the issue said union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar. But Rashtriya Kisan union leader Abhimanyu Kohar shot back saying that “it has become an ego issue for the government, if they can put on hold these laws for one or one and half year why could not they repeal it and re-enact the laws after holding consultation with all stake holders with in this time”. On the condition of the anonymity one farmer’s leader said “I think we should bargain for a three year suspension period and an ordinance on MSP. However, there is no question of any separate talk with the government we will ultimately abide by what the unions decide together.”
With hard line taken by both sides the spotlight now is on the run up of Republic day when the farmers have resolved to bring out a tractor parade on Delhi’s outer ring road. The government through Delhi Police first tried to involve Supreme Court for stopping this parade but after Delhi Police got snubbed from the apex court it is has now not permitted the farmers to bring out this tractor parade in view of heightened security arrangement for the Republic day.
Though the government is not worried of forthcoming budget session of the parliament due to its overwhelming strength in the house but the session is going to be stormy on farmer’s issue. BJP is all alone in the house as all of its allies have left it on this issue but the government is comfortable because of BJP’s own strength. But opposition mainly Congress will make things difficult for BJP in the house. After the breakdown of talks on Friday the opposition blamed the government’s rigid stand for the deadlock and signaled to forcefully raise the farmer’s issue in the parliament. Congress president Sonia Gandhi is likely to call the meeting of opposition leaders ahead of parliament session to chalk out the strategy. Opposition leaders have decided to hit the streets all over the country to raise the farmer’s issue and explain before the public about the adverse effects of these Laws on common man in general and farmers in particular.
The Centre’s insensitivity undemocratic attitude and arrogance has worsened the situation. At the outset the laws were enacted in hurry and without proper consultation with all stake holders including opposition. Not only this proper debate was also not held in parliament nor they were sent to standing committees for detailed deliberations and consultations. Government first issued the ordinance and then in hurry it was passed from parliament, what has happened in Rajya Sabha has shamed the democratic functioning. Instead of making it the prestige issue the government should show magnamity, flexibility and statesmanship and repeal the law to be enacted later with proper consultation with all stake holders and debate in parliament.
There is no denying the fact that Indian agriculture sector needs reforms. But it should ensure that the farmer’s interest is not hurt and food security of the nation is not compromised. Indian farmers and consumers specially from lower, lower middle and middle class could not an should not be left at the mercy of market forces and corporate houses. Need of agricultural reforms is not in dispute but the challenge is in identifying the viable measures from economic environment, and scientific perspective and build a consensus among political parties and other stake holders. It is the responsibility of the government to create an atmosphere of trust and goodwill with the farmers. It is only possible when the laws are repealed and fresh round of consultation is started and then the laws are enacted with due parliamentary procedures. The ball is in government’s court .