Govt ready to amend new agri laws; opposition playing politics at cost of agri-economy: Tomar

Eleven rounds of talks between the Centre and 41 protesting farmer unions have, so far, remained deadlocked

Govt ready to amend new agri laws; opposition playing politics at cost of agri-economy: Tomar

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. PTI file

New Delhi, March 6

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Saturday said the government is ready to amend three new farm laws to respect the sentiments of protesting farmers, even as he attacked opposition parties for doing politics on this issue at the cost of agriculture economy and by hurting farmers’ interest.

Addressing the 5th national convention of Agrivision here, the Union Minister said the government had held 11 rounds of talks with farmer unions and has even offered to amend these laws.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at Delhi borders for over three months, seeking a repeal of these three legislations and a legal guarantee of the minimum support price (MSP).

Eleven rounds of talks between the Centre and 41 protesting farmer unions have, so far, remained deadlocked. The government has offered concessions, including suspension of the legislations for 12 to 18 months and setting up a joint panel to find solutions, but the unions have rejected.

Tomar said the government had passed these three laws to boost investment in the farm sector and give freedom to farmers to sell their produce wherever they want and at price determined by them.

The laws, which were passed by Parliament in September last year, would also enable to grow those crops that can fetch more prices in the market, he added.

Referring to the ongoing farmers’ agitation, Tomar wondered how this agitation was going to benefit farmers.

“Main ye manta hoon, loktantra mein asahmati ka apna sthan hai, virodh ka bhi apna sthan hai, matbhed ke bhi apne mahatva hai. Lekin kya virodh is keemat par kiya jaana chahiye, jo desh ka nuksan kare (There is a place for disagreement in democracy and so is for opposition and difference of opinion, but should there be any opposition that can harm the nation),” he said.

No one was ready to talk on how these protests could be in the interest of farmers, the Minister said.

Tomar regretted that the farmer unions, as well as the Opposition parties, had failed to point out faults in provisions of these laws.

“Loktantra hai toh rajneeti karne ki swatantra sabko hai. Lekin kya kisan ko markar rajneeti ki jayegi, kisan ka ahit karke rajneeti ki jaayegi, desh ke krishi ki arthvybastha ko tilanjali dekar apne mansoobon ko pura kiya jayega, is par nischit roop se naye phidi ko vichar karne ki zaroorat hai (Everyone is free to have any political view in democracy but the new generation must think, should there be any politics by sacrificing farmers or by hurting farmers’ interest or at the cost of the agriculture economy),” he asked.

Tomar stressed that the government’s proposal to amend laws did not mean that there were any deficiencies in these reform laws.

He said the government had made a proposal to amend these laws as farmers continued to be the face of this ongoing protest.

Stating that the Centre, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was committed to farmers’ welfare, Tomar said the government’s priority was to upheld farmers’ respect and therefore, it was ready to make amendments in the laws.

The Minister said there were always an opposition to big reforms but people did accept changes if the intention and policies were correct.

The Supreme Court had on January 12 stayed the implementation of the three contentious farm laws for two months and asked the committee to submit a report after consulting the stakeholders.

The three laws are the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. PTI

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