Rakesh Tikait, the head of nearly one-year-old farmers’ protest against the three contentious central farm laws, on Monday warned of intensifying the stir across the country unless all pending demands were met by the Union government.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced plans to repeal the three laws, but there has been no word on the remaining demands, which are equally important, Tikait told Business Standard in Lucknow. “On the one hand, the Centre has announced to repeal farm laws, they are concurrently in the process of introducing 17 other laws, which have a direct bearing on farmers’ livelihood. The government should immediately initiate a dialogue to resolve the stalemate.”
He claimed the Centre had still not reached out to the farm leaders after the PM in his televised address to the nation on Friday announced to repeal the laws in earnest.
Tikait was addressing a Kisan Mahapanchayat in the UP capital under the aegis of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), which has been spearheading the protest, mainly comprising the farmers of Punjab, Haryana, and western UP, at the Delhi borders since November last year.
“The Kisan Mahapanchayat has been organised to mobilise support for our movement. The agitation will intensify in the days to come unless the Centre takes the initiative to resolve the contentious issue through talks and by accepting our demands,” he said.
Tikait also said the Union government was conspiring to divide the farmers on communal and community lines to weaken their unity. “Merely an apology by the PM will not benefit the farmers, but a guaranteed minimum support price (MSP) mechanism will.”
While serving as the Gujarat chief minister in 2011, Modi had presided over a national financial committee tasked by the Manmohan Singh government to give its recommendation over MSP, Tikait said.
“The Modi-led committee had then recommended that the MSP should be accorded a legal framework in the larger interests of farmers. The recommendation is still pending with the PMO (PM Office). We want PM Modi to implement his own recommendations today,” Tikait said.
He alleged that the Modi government was reneging on the promise of implementing the recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee.
Tikait said the farmers did not wish to see the PM on a sticky wicket ever. “We want our PM to be assertive and strong, and likewise address our core concerns decisively. Otherwise, our movement will continue unabated.”
On Sunday, the SKM had urged the PM to resume talks with farmers to resolve the stalemate. The farmers have also demanded the arrest of Union Minister of State for Home, Ajay Mishra Teni, over the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, in which some farmers were allegedly run over by his son’s cavalcade. His son Ashish Mishra is currently in jail in the case.