Govt reaches out to farmers, seeks names for MSP panel; SKM says ‘will decide in December 4 meet’


New Delhi: A day after the three contentious farm laws were repealed by the Parliament, the government on Tuesday reached out to the agitating farmers, asking them to suggest five names to be included in a committee to be formed to discuss farm-related issues, including MSP.

After making the announcement on November 19 that his government had decided to repeal the three farm laws, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also said a committee comprising representatives of the Centre, state governments, farmers, agriculture scientists and agriculture economists would be formed to discuss how Minimum Support Price (MSP) can be made more effective, how zero budget farming can be promoted, and how crop patterns can be changed in a scientific manner.

There was no official announcement from the government, however, late in the evening, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the consortium of farmers` organisations that spearheaded the agitation to demand repeal of the three farm laws for over a year, confirmed that there was a phone call from the government to a Punjab farmer union leader, wherein it wanted five names to be suggested from the SKM`s side for the committee.

“However, we have received no written communication and no details are available so far about what this Committee is about, its mandate or Terms of Reference. In the absence of such details, it would be premature to comment on this issue,” a statement from the SKM said.

Till evening, the farmers` group seemed divided over the issue as sources from the Singhu border campsite on Delhi outskirts – the headquarters of the SKM – sent out conflicting signals.

One of the SKM leaders, Darshan Pal later confirmed that there was a communication that sought five names for SKM to be included in the committee for MSP. But a number of other farmers` leaders had said there was no official word from any government or political functionary.

The SKM had declared that day that they would wait for the laws to be formally repealed and the government gave legal standing to MSP. The farmers had also announced to continue their agitation till all their demands – apart from the main demand of repeal of the three laws – are met. Those demands included the withdrawal of cases against all the farmers lodged during the time of the one year plus agitation.

Meanwhile, the SKM has clarified that all its constituent bodies will take stock of the situation and take decisions about the next steps in the farmers` struggle on December 4, as announced earlier.

“The date of this SKM meeting remains unchanged. This meeting will take place at the Singhu Border. In this meeting, there will be discussion on the various points raised in the letter to the Prime Minister and future decisions will be taken,” a statement from the SKM said.

It maintained that vague statements here and there as a response to the pending demands of protesting farmers are not an acceptable response or assurance from BJP governments and that it sought solid assurances on, and concrete solutions to their pending demands.

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