The farmers are expected to convey this to the government during the 11th round of talks on Friday.
During the 10th round of talks on Wednesday, the government offered to suspend the implementation of the contentious farm laws for up to 18 months and form a joint committee with farmer unions.
It proposed that discussions would continue during this period so that a final solution could be worked out on all demands, such as repeal of the laws and legal guarantee on the minimum support price (MSP).
In order to assure the unions that it would not backtrack from its assurance, the government also promised to submit an affidavit in this regard in the Supreme Court. However, the assurance failed to win the trust of the farmer unions.
Though a section within the group of 40 unions was willing to give the government’s proposal a chance if the Centre agrees for putting the laws on hold for an indefinite period or for a longer period beyond 18 months, there was no consensus on this when they met to take a call on Thursday and therefore decided to reject it after their marathon meeting.
Announcing the decision, the umbrella body of the unions, Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), referred to sacrifice of 143 farmers who had lost their lives in this movement and said, “Their sacrifice will not go in vain and we will not go back without the repealing of these farm laws.”
Noting the unanimous decision of the general body meeting of the SKM, farmer leader Darshan Pal of Krantikari Kisan Union said, “A full repeal of three central farm acts and enacting a legislation for remunerative minimum support price (MSP) for all farmers were reiterated as the pending demands of the movement.”
“In the meeting with the government on Friday, we will demand repeal of the laws and legal guarantee to MSP,” said farmer leader Joginder Singh Ugrahan of Bhartiya KIsan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan).
The general body of the SKM also decided to go ahead with the farmers’ Republic Day parade on Outer Ring Road in Delhi. Though Delhi and Haryana Police have, so far, not given them permission, the unions insisted on it saying no one can stop them from holding a peaceful march inside the Capital.
Though the SKM has time and again denied having any direct contact with political parties during the ongoing protests, a few union leaders during the general body meeting are learnt to have noted how the opposition political parties have come forward to make this a pan-India movement. Thus, the leaders felt there was no point in compromising with the core demands at this juncture when the government appears to be on the backfoot.
Political parties in states have openly come in support of the farmer protests. “A non- political agitation is now gaining support of political parties, specifically Samajwadi party in Uttar Pradesh, Shiv Sena and NCP in Maharashtra and RJD in Bihar. It will add political dimension to the protests during the budget session of Parliament,” said Sudhir Panwar, agriculture expert and former Planning Commission member of UP.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court-appointed committee on Thursday initiated consultations with farmer organisations of eight states — Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh — through video conference and heard them on various issues relating to the farm laws.
Ten out of 20 groups shortlisted on the first day of consultation joined the meeting virtually. These organisations are connected with the All India Kisan Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) – an umbrella body of pro-farm laws. All three committee members — Anil Ghanwat of Shetkari Sanghatana and agriculture experts Ashok Gulati and P K Joshi – attended the consultations and urged the participants to extend their free and frank opinion.