One member of the Supreme Court-appointed committee to look into the farm laws recused himself from the panel on Thursday even as the government said talks with farmers will go on as scheduled on January 15.
The opposition, meanwhile, continued its attack on the Centre over the contentious farm laws, with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleging that the government was “conspiring to destroy” farmers and assured that his party will stand with them.
His party will launch a mass anti-farmer stir on Friday, gheraoing Raj Bhawans across India in support of the ongoing farmers’ agitation.
BHUPINDER MANN OPTS OUT OF SC COMMITTEE
Bhartiya Kisan Union national president Bhupinder Singh Mann on Thursday said he is recusing himself from the four-member committee appointed by the Supreme Court to resolve the deadlock between farmers and the Centre over the new agri-marketing laws.
Mann’s announcement came on a day when his organisation’s Punjab unit decided to disassociate itself from him.
He said he is thankful to the apex court for nominating him to the panel but would give up any position to prevent farmers’ interests from being compromised.
“As a farmer myself and a union leader, in view of the prevailing sentiments and apprehensions amongst the farm unions and the public in general, I am ready to sacrifice any position offered or given to me so as to not compromise the interests of Punjab and farmers of the country,” he said in an unsigned statement.
“I am recusing myself from the committee and I will always stand with my farmers and Punjab,” said ex-MP Bhupinder Mann.
The apex court had on Tuesday stayed the implementation of the three central laws till further orders and announced the formation of a committee to hear the grievances of the farmers and the opinion of the government.
FARMERS’ SUPPORT MANN’S EXIT, STILL REFUSE TO ACCEPT COMMITTEE
Protesting farmer leaders welcomed Bhartiya Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann’s decision to recuse himself from a Supreme Court-appointed committee.
They reiterated that they do not want any panel and will not settle for anything less than the repeal of the three contentious laws.
They said the other three members of the committee should follow suit as the agitating unions had never demanded formation of any committee to resolve the impasse between farmers and the Centre over the new farm laws.
Farmer unions and opposition parties had raised doubts over the composition of the panel, insisting that its members have been in favour of the three laws in the past.
Some leaders also invited Mann to join the agitation against the legislations.
“Mann’s decision is a good step as there is no importance of any committee for farmer unions as it has not been our demand. Mann knew that no farmer union would appear before the court-appointed committee that’s why he has taken this decision,” farmer leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni said.
NEXT ROUND OF GOVT-FARMERS TALKS TOMORROW
Meanwhile, the government’s ninth round of negotiations with protesting farmer unions will take place as scheduled on Friday and the Centre is hopeful of positive discussions, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said.
“The government is ready to hold talks with farmers’ leaders with an open mind,” Tomar told reporters.
Clearing the confusion over the fate of the ninth round of talks, which was the only outcome in the last meeting on January 8, in the wake of the Supreme Court on January 11 appointing a four-member panel to resolve the impasse and a key member of the proposed committee subsequently recusing himself, Tomar said the talks between the government and the union representatives will take place as scheduled for 12 pm on January 15.
The farmer unions have been maintaining that they were ready to attend the scheduled talks with the government but added that they don’t have much hope as they will not settle for anything less than the repeal of the contentious farm laws.
Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait confirmed the protesting farmer unions will attend the scheduled ninth round of talks with the government and asserted it is necessary to continue the dialogue to resolve the deadlock and end the agitation.
OPPOSITION CONTINUES ATTACK ON GOVERNMENT
The opposition has continued slamming the government on the issue of the three farm laws, calling on it to repeal the ‘anti-farmer’ legislations.
On Tuesday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visited Tamil Nadu’s Madurai on the occasion of Pongal.
He accused the government of “conspiring to destroy” peasants to benefit a select few businessmen.
“The government is not just neglecting them (farmers), the government is conspiring to destroy them. There is a difference. Neglecting is ignoring…they are not ignoring them,” he said in response to a query.
Extending his party’s support to the farmers, Gandhi said the laws will indeed be repealed.
“Mark my words…these laws– the government will be forced to take them back,” he said, adding he was “proud” of what the farmers were doing (protesting against the laws).
On the other side of the country, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said that “truly independent” persons should have been appointed on the committee formed by the Supreme Court to resolve the impasse over new farm laws.
Pawar said the agitating farmers do not have faith in the panel as these members were said to have supported the new farm laws of the Centre in the past.
In Bengal, the Trinamool Congress claimed that the new agriculture laws will leave small and marginal farmers at the mercy of big corporates and demanded that the legislation should be immediately repealed.
CONGRESS TO HOLD MEGA ANTI-FARM LAW STIR
As announced previously, the Congress on Friday will lay siege to Governors’ offices across the country in support of the farmers’ agitation against the Centre’s new farm laws.
Congress will observe “Kisan Adhikar Diwas” tomorrow.
As part of the event, Congress workers will take out Jan Andolans across India and gherao Raj Bhawans in different states.
Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi will lead the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee’s protest march in the national capital.
FIRST MEET OF SC COMMITTEE ON JAN 19
The Supreme Court-appointed panel on farm laws is likely to hold its first meeting on January 19 at Pusa campus in Delhi, one of its members Anil Ghanwat said on Thursday and asserted the committee will have no “ego or prestige issue” if it has to go to farmers’ protest sites to talk to them.
The panel members were scheduled to have a virtual interaction earlier in the day to discuss its future course of action, but it could not take place after ex-MP and farmer leader Bhupinder Singh Mann recused himself from the committee.