Farm leaders hopeful govt will repeal laws but will continue with Bharat Bandh

Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait on Saturday said that the Bharat Bandh announced on December 8 will go as planned despite repeated assurances from the Centre regarding resolving issues concerning the farm bills.

“The government will prepare a draft and give (it to) us. They said that they’ll consult the states too. Discussions were held on MSP too but we said that we should also take up laws and talk about their roll back. Bharat Bandh will go on as announced,” Tikait was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Farmer leaders earlier on Saturday said that they do not have any qualms when it comes to staying put on roads and said that they will continue to hold agitations if the government does not listen to their demands. A farm leader told ANI, “We’ve material with us to last a year, we’ve been on (the) road for the past several days. If the government wants us to stay on the road, we’ve no problem.”

Farmer leaders are hopeful that the government will repeal the newly introduced farm laws and are firm that they do not seek any amendments. Hannan Mollah of the All India Kisan Sabha said, “We said at the beginning of the meeting that our demand is the withdrawal of laws, don’t want amendment. We took a firm stand. Finally, we were told that the next meeting will be held on December 9. It seems govt will definitely roll back the laws.”

The fifth round of talks over the three bills – Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill; the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill – between farmers and the union government remained inconclusive. Farmers fear that these will pave the way for private players to enter the market and affect MSP procurement.

Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar who along with Union ministers Piyush Goyal and Som Prakash attended the meet tried to alleviate the concerns raised regarding MSP and said that the system will not be affected and called the doubts baseless. The Centre has said that it will resolve every query and strengthen APMCs if needed in order to address the concerns raised by farm leaders.

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