India

Mantri absent, farmers walk out

NEW DELHI\BATHINDA: Representatives of 29 farmer organisations from Punjab on Wednesday walked out from a meeting called by the agriculture ministry to address their concerns over the newly enacted farm laws after discussing issues for two hours and submitting a memorandum highlighting their key demands.
Though the farmers were informed in advance that the scheduled meeting would be chaired by agriculture secretary Sanjay Agarwal, they pointed to agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s absence and said there was no point discussing the issue with the secretary as he did not have the authority to take decision on their demands. They said there should have been a political representation at the discussion.
The farmers’ representatives in their memorandum demanded repeal of the newly enacted farm laws, grant of legal status to procurement at Minimum Support Price (MSP) and implementation of recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission report for higher MSP among others. Vowing to step up protests against the farm laws, the representatives later tore copies of the legislation and raised slogans against the government outside Krishi Bhavan.
“We feel betrayed as no minister turned up even though nine ministers of the Modi cabinet have been assigned duties to speak to farmers in virtual meetings. The ministers have been tasked to hold virtual meetings with the farmers but we, the representatives of 29 farm organisations, reached Delhi and no minister found it fit to hold discussions with us, despite twice inviting us for talks,” BKU (Rajewal) President Balbir Singh Rajewal said.
Tomar later tweeted pictures of the farmer representatives’ meeting with Agarwal, saying it was scheduled to be held at the level of the agriculture secretary. Seven farmer leaders said they would never come for talks with the Centre in future and the central would have to approach them in Punjab, if it was ever keen on a dialogue.

News Sunoo

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