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Government’s letter has nothing new: farmers’ representatives

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New Delhi: Farmer groups will hold discussions on Tuesday morning to decide their course of action after the Centre’s latest letter asking them to decide on date of talks. Some of the farmers’ representatives told ET that the new letter had “nothing new” and the government had only expressed willingness to “resolve farmer concerns” about the new laws.

The representatives said the government should, instead, take a cue from the Supreme Court’s suggestion to suspend the laws before beginning talks. “We are going through every line of the letter that we received last night. Many issues are to be considered in conjunction with this letter, such as the Centre propping up other farmer groups to rally in its favour, income-tax raids on Arhtiyas in Punjab and the government propaganda against the agitation. The PM says one thing, while his ministers do just something opposite,” Ruldu Singh said. Another farmer leader, Manjit Singh Rai, alleged there was an attempt from the government to mislead people by trying to show through the letter that it was very flexible while the farmers were rigid.

“The ‘benevolence’ is being shown to ask us to fix a date for the next meeting but the letter is clear that they are only ready to resolve concerns. This was the situation two months ago as well. We are at Singhu border and the ministers can come here any time to talk to us. They know our demand. They should simply write to us saying they are repealing the laws,” Rai said.

The government’s letter was marked to 40 farmer leaders, including Darshan Pal state president of the Krantikari Kisan Union of Punjab, Joginder Singh Ugarhan of BKU (Ekta-Ugarhan) and Hannan Mollah, leader of the All India Kisan Sabha, the CPM arm. Earlier during talks, ministers had exhibited discomfort with the three leaders leading the talks given their ‘Leftist’ credentials and Ugarhan group leading a campaign for release of activists like Umar Khalid and Sharjeel Imam. “This shows the government has been unable to break the unity of 40 farmer unions though they tried to sow the seeds of discord,” said Darshan Pal.

Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Badal, meanwhile, said the only way ahead was calling an emergency session of Parliament to discuss the farm bills threadbare. “The unfortunate part is that the government has cancelled the winter session of Parliament when Covid-19 is receding in India while it held a session at the peak of pandemic to pass the black laws. The truth is that the government does not want to face the farmers or Parliament,” Badal alleged.

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