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Farmers’ protest | There’s little hope of a breakthrough, says BKU(U)

Ahead of the next round of meeting between farmers’ outfits and the Central government on January 4, Joginder Singh, president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan), one of the largest outifts in Punjab, says there is “little hope” for any breakthrough on revoking the contentious farm laws amid what he terms the “stubborn attitude of the BJP-led government”.

“The way the leaders of the ruling government at the Centre have been giving statements in favour of the new laws and terming them good for farmers, I am not too hopeful of any positive outcome from talks on January 4. Our stand is very clear — we want a legal guarantee for minimum support prices (MSPs) for farm produce, besides revocation of all the three farm laws. If our demands are not fulfilled, we will continue with our agitation indefinitely,” Mr. Singh told The Hindu on Sunday.

‘Partial achievement’

Mr. Singh said in the last meeting, the Centre had assured farmers of decriminalising stubble-burning and safeguarding electricity subsidies, but that is only a partial achievement. “The resolution of the ongoing impasse lies only in the government accepting our demand of revoking the new farm laws. Until our core demands are accepted, the struggle will continue and will only intensify further,” he said.

Mr. Singh added that the government needs to understand that the prevailing mandi system under the Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act (APMC) in Punjab and Haryana has been working well and it should continue. “Even contract farming had been in place before the new laws were enacted. Let it be the way it was,” said Mr. Singh.

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The government has been trying to justify the laws by saying that several farmers’ unions are supporting them, but this is only an attempt to weaken the ongoing movement and divert attention, said Mr. Singh. “The unions, which the government has been claiming are in favour of these laws, are those which have no existence on the ground. These unions exist only in office records. How many of these unions have participated in any of the farmers movements? They are just a sham,” said Mr. Singh. “The government’s intent is to establish a parallel platform to weaken the ongoing agitation.”

Mr. Singh said though the BKU (Ugrahan) is not part of the group of 32 farmers’ unions from Punjab, all outfits were working together to get the farm laws revoked. “We have started a tractor march in the villages of Haryana in support of our agitation. Over 1,000 tractors are participating in this march, which will increase in the coming days. The march started from Tikri border on January 3 and will continue for the next three-four days in Haryana to garner more support for the cause.”

Urging the Central government to acknowledge public sentiments, Mr. Singh said the government should leave its stubborn attitude and show magnanimity by accepting the demands of the agitating farmers. “People, including children, women and elderly, are sitting on protest in biting cold ... Around fifty people have already lost their lives. In a democratic system, the people’s voice should not be disregarded. The government should not play with our emotions and must consider our demands sympathetically. This will only strengthen our democratic system,” said Mr. Singh.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2021 12:15:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/farmers-protest-theres-little-hope-of-a-breakthrough-says-bkuu/article33488480.ece

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