With the Republic Day fast approaching and the Supreme Court of India not deciding on the Delhi Police’s application to stay the threatened tractor rally on that day, the government seems to have gone back to the drawing boards and has come up with the best offer to end the stalemate at Delhi’s borders. Seen as a total capitulation by some hardliners and thaw in the freeze in negotiations by others over the three beleaguered farm laws, the Indian Government has offered to suspend implementation of the legislations for a year and a half or any period agreed upon mutually between the protesting farmers and the Centre.
India’s Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar briefed the media after the 10th round of negotiations and said to show the government’s sincerity, it was ready to file an affidavit in the Supreme Court to dispel any misgivings on their proposal.
The protagonists of the protests seem fixated on their demand for the total repeal of the laws., though they said they would hold internal consultations tomorrow on the fresh offer. Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) president Joginder Singh Ugrahan said, “The government proposed to suspend the farm laws for one and a half years. We rejected the proposal but since it has come from the government, we will meet tomorrow and deliberate over it.”
Tomar hopes of reaching an amicable solution in the next round of talks tomorrow, January 22.
“It will be victory for Indian democracy the day the agitation ends and farmers return to their homes,” he said.
Kavitha Kuruganti, one of the farmer leaders protesting, said, “Besides keeping the laws on hold, the government proposed forming a committee that will discuss the future of the laws–whether to amend or repeal them.”
The government is very keen on ending the deadlock on Parkash Purb of Guru Gobind Singh. “The farmers remained stuck on their demand for repeal… I am glad they have decided to discuss the matter… the matter is heading towards a conclusion”, the Agriculture minister said.
Clearly the government offer is seen more as victory by the farmers than a sensible way to resolve a real, democratic deadlock. It will definitely give the opponents the oxygen to attack the Modi government.
Sanyukta Kisan Morcha leader Darshan Pal clarified that the unions agreeing to discuss the proposal does not mean the farmer leaders had given up their demand for total repeal of the laws.
Viewing the proposal as a “partial victory”, some leaders believe the government appeared to be on the “back foot” and “worried”, especially after farmers’ decision to hold their tractor rally on R-Day.
And there is no doubt that is the case. The government can least afford to have world headlines focused on clashes on roads of India’s capital.
The farmers have also flagged the issues of NIA summons to some leaders and the arrest of three farmers in Shimla.
After the Supreme Court of India refused to decide the Delhi Police application of tractor rally proposed on 26 January, some union leaders have been meeting officials of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh Police to discuss the route and arrangements for their tractor rally. To keep the rally as far away as possible from Delhi, the police proposed the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway instead of Delhi’s Outer Ring Road, the proposal was rejected by the farmer leaders.
Farm laws continue to plague the Modi administration.