The government’s offer to make amendments to the new farm laws has not resulted in a breakthrough with the protesting farmers, but agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said he’s hopeful that farmers will recognise some great benefits of the reforms. The government has said it was once in a position for talks and hopes that genuine farmers’ unions will step forward to find a solution through dialogue, Tomar said in an interview with Smriti Kak Ramachandran. Edited excerpts:
Amendments proposed by the government dilute the reforms, which are essential for growth of agriculture. You are also in a position to cause an amendment to allow states to levy a cess on private markets. Since you have yielded such a lot, why not repeal the laws?
The essence of the laws is still there. But whatever we could do to find ways to get to the bottom of the concerns of farmers has been done. We have made that attempt through the amendments. The reforms were aimed at increasing competition; so far only licensed traders could buy in the mandis, now everyone can. As competition increases, the farmers will recover remuneration.
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The reforms will continue. Take as an example contract farming, it is aimed at ensuring a guaranteed price for their produce, security of their farming land, increase private investment, and addresses the issue of globally followed agricultural practices.
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Farmers fear that the reforms benefit corporate entities more.
The fear that it’ll take absent their land is baseless. So far in states such as Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Karnataka contract farming is already being practised. So far no one’s land has been grabbed. In the act we have made a provision that the farmer can opt out of the contract, but the buyers cannot and whether they do, then they have got to pay a penalty of 150%.
Do you blame the Congress for instigating the farmers?
I have all the time said this approximately the Congress that they have got to leave in the back of their dual-faced politics. They spoke approximately these reforms in their election manifesto; when the UPA was once in power they made attempts to introduce these reforms, but could not as a result of dabav and prabhav (pressure and influence) (of allies). PM [Narendra] Modi Ji does not give in to pressure or influence.
Either the Congress party was once trying to mislead the country when they mentioned these reforms in their manifesto or they’re trying to mislead the country now by opposing them.
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Opposition parties wanted the farm laws to be debated more and sent to a make a selection committee. Why was once the government reluctant?
The government did not shy absent from discussions, but there was once no wish to send it to the make a selection committee. A make a selection committee isn’t above Parliament. Four hours were spent debating these laws in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. All parties put forth their views. It was once passed in Lok Sabha and in Rajya Sabha; when I rose to speak, some opposition MPs created a ruckus in the house and put a blot on the democratic process. What were they doing for four hours whether they were not discussing it? They could have sat and heard the discussions and when voting took place they could’ve voted against it — that is how democracy works. This is a myth that there was once no discussion…
The farmers have demanded setting up of committed agri courts. Farmers are worried they won’t be capable of fight big corporate entities.
There is not any issue of committed courts. The Act provides for SDM sub-divisional magistrate to get to the bottom of problems inside 30 days and there are no decisions that may be provided against the farmer. They think the SDM won’t be able to give justice, subsequently, they will have to be provided permission to go to court. Whether somebody wants to go to court, they are able to do so, but we wish resolution to happen at the SDM’s level, quickly and without problems. The government does not have any ego in this.
How would you describe the discussions held so far? Has there been any breakthrough?
We have been successful in putting forth what we need to say. The unions have not been ready to succeed in a decision because there’s no consensus among them. I need to thank the media… in the previous few days they have got put out news which is very shocking… that there are lots of Left-affiliated elements that have infiltrated these protests. There are those who are seeking the release of those who are anti-national. These elements aren’t allowing the talks to come to fruition. Are those raising slogans for Sharjeel Imam farmers? These are Leftists who oppose each reform announced by Narendra Modi…It has turn into a fashion for them to oppose whatever good is being proposed to improve the country.
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The anti CAA protests were called off after the court’s intervention. Do you think that is how it is possible for you to to end this stalemate?
I feel the genuine farmers’ unions will step forward and will take a decision in favour of the farmers. I have hope that they’re going to do so.
Is the BJP worried approximately the electoral have an effect on this agitation will have?
It is vital that when we go out to do something good there’s a period of struggle and pain. Itihaas wohi banate hai jo itihaas se aage nikal jaate hai (those who move ahead of times make history) and people who consider in status quo cannot create history. Even the UPA wanted to make these reforms but they couldn’t[ad_2]