Farmers reject Centre’s best offer

Clay Curtis
January 23, 2021

Indian farmers have rejected an offer by the government to defer three farm laws for one-and-half years, warning they would step up protests as they seek a complete repeal of the laws and a guarantee of minimum crop prices. Farmers have announced to continue the movement, rejecting the government's proposal. "This agitation is of the farmers and the government wants to talk about the interest of the farmers, but the interaction with the farmers' unions is not reaching any result, it means that there is some power that wants to sustain the Kisan agitation for its own benefit". Tens of thousands of farmers have been camping outside the capital New Delhi for weeks and say they will only move once the reforms are abandoned altogether. He said the Centre is ready to consider alternative proposals from the farmers, but added that he considers the government's proposal is the best solution available at this point. But, once again farmers' organizations rejected the government's proposal.

In the 11 round of meeting, both sides were once again inconclusive, and the date of next meeting is not decided. Friday's meeting started at Vigyan Bhawan, and was soon halted after 15 minutes.

In the last round of meetings held on Wednesday, the government had offered to put on hold the three laws and set up a joint committee to find solutions.

"If (farm leaders) agree with our proposal, we can meet tomorrow", he said.Shiv Kumar Kakkar, a farmer leader, complained that police have been issuing threats to the farmers to call off their protest.

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"On January 26, there was a plan to create disturbance during the tractor rally by opening fire on Delhi Police personnel, which would prompt them to retaliate against the protesting farmers in a strong manner", he said.

The farmers and ministers parted aways at around 1:15 pm when the government told the agrarians that they should hold another meeting to mull over the government's proposal. While the farmers are adamant on the parade even if the police permission does not come through, the government will be exploring all legal and administrative options to maintain law and order.

Politically, the optics of this protest is a challenge to the Centre. The protest so far has been disciplined and non-violent, thus giving it a ring of legitimacy and strength.

How the issue will be resolved is yet to be seen.

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