Even as the farmer unions protesting against the NDA government’s three new agriculture laws have decided to observe ‘Black Flag Day’ across the country on Wednesday, May 26, the Kolhapur (Maharashtra)-based farmer union Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) has proposed a new formula to break the impasse.
“Let the government put in abeyance the farm laws for 18 months. In the meantime, the President may promulgate an ordinance legalising minimum support price (MSP). This may later be extended, and let’s see how the farmers fare during this period,” said SSS founder, Raju Shetti, adding, “Thereafter, let the government implement its laws and again check the result.”
Shetti agrees that it needs to be accepted by other leaders but says he is trying to convince them.
While the Centre has already proposed to hold back the laws for 18 months to facilitate negotiations, it has been non-committal on legalising MSP. But there have been several verbal assurances that MSP will continue.
A three-member committee appointed by Supreme Court has meanwhile submitted its report in a sealed envelope after consulting stakeholders to find a solution to the standoff.
Last week, the umbrella organisation of protestors Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking resumption of dialogue. There have been 11 rounds of talks since December, the last being held on January 22.
Since January 26, when the farmers’ tractor rally on the streets of the national capital turned violent, there have been no further dialogues.
SKM’s letter has put the onus of resuming the talks on the Prime Minister. It has also reiterated the demand for total repeal of the laws and a legal guarantee of MSP.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar made it clear that the unions should either accept the government’s offer to suspend the three laws for 18 months or come with a proposal other than outright scrapping of the laws.
Thousands of farmers have started assembling at Delhi’s borders at the call of the SKM. They are mostly from adjacent states of Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Some are also from Rajasthan.
“Black flags will be placed on house tops, vehicles, and carried by supporters. Effigies and copies of the laws will be burnt. We are reaching out to our members at village level to organise it,” said Atul Kumar Anjaan, working group member, All India Kisan Sangarsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), a platform of several farmer unions.
The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) has meanwhile put out a statement against the proposed protests. Calling it politically motivated, the RSS-affiliated farmer union has appealed to people to not support the movement. It cited the unruly scenes in Delhi on Republic Day and also the threat from Coronavirus pandemic.
Twelve opposition parties and several trade unions are supporting the countrywide protest call given by SKM.
Wednesday also marks the day Narendra Modi completes seven years in office. He had first taken oath of office and secrecy as Prime Minister on May 26, 2014.