Talks fine but no precondition, say farmers

Turn down Union Home Minister’s offer | Reaching out, Shah says agitation not political

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 29

Agitating farmers today rejected Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s offer for “conditional talks”, sticking to their decision to continue protesting on highways and threatening to block all five entry points to the national Capital, if the Centre did not roll back the recent farm laws.

“We are ready for talks but without preconditions,” farm leaders said, stressing they would go back the moment the Centre announced to revoked the three “anti-farmer” Acts and turning down Shah’s appeal to shift to Nirankari Ground at Burari, calling it a an “open jail”.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar today again invited the farmers to the negotiating table. Shah, addressing a press conference in Hyderabad, said the farmers’ agitation was not political.

“I have never said so. Don’t put words in my mouth,” he told the media in Hyderabad. This is being seen as an attempt by the government to reach out to the farmers as several BJP leaders, including Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar, have called the agitation political or “Congress-driven.”

Claiming that it was not just Punjab farmers’ stir, but of farmers from across the country, farmers’ unions hit out at the government for attacking “arthiyas”, arguing they were service providers and not middlemen. “You (government) are under pressure from middlemen because you have middlemen in defence, trade commerce deals,” remarked Balbir Singh Rajewal of the BKU (Rajewal).

Countering claims that the protests were mainly Punjab-centric, the protesters demanded a talks invite for all. “It is a pan-India stir. Farmers from Haryana, UP, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh are part of the movement. Agitations are on in Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand too,” the All-India Sangharsh Coordinating Committee said.

Stir pan-India: Farm panel

Countering claims that the agitation was “Punjab-centric,” the protesters have sought talks invite for all. “Farmers from Haryana, UP, U’khand and MP are part of the movement. Agitations are on in Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, M’rashtra, K’taka, Telangana, Andhra and Jharkhand,” the All-India Sangharsh Coordinating Committee said.

Hold talks immediately: AAP

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday asked the Centre to immediately hold talks with the farmers. AAP leader Sanjay Singh said: “We welcome the farmers to Delhi.” The party said Shah had shown “utter irresponsibility” by leaving the Capital to campaign for Hyderabad MC elections when the farmers were waiting at the Delhi border for talks.

Rahul takes a dig at govt

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attacked the government over the farmers’ protest. “Promise was to double farmers’ income, the Modi government did double income, but that of Adani-Ambani. Those who are still defending the black farm laws, what solution will they find in favour of farmers?” he tweeted in Hindi, adding: “Ab hogi (now there will be) #KisaanKiBaat”.

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