As the ongoing farmers' protest continued for the 20th day on Tuesday, Union Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the government is ready discuss the three farm laws clause by clause by if the protesting farmers respond to amendments proposed by the government.
"We have said that we are ready for the talks. The government will definitely do it if their (farmer unions') proposal comes...We want the discussions to be held clause by clause. They will give their opinion on our proposal, we will definitely hold further talks," he said.
Earlier on Monday, farmer leaders went on a daylong hunger strike and demonstrated in different parts of the country to push for a rollback of the new farm laws. From government's side, Union minister Rajnath Singh said there is no question of the government ever taking any “retrograde step” against the agriculture sector.
Meanwhile, Rapid Action Force (RAF) and additional forces have been deployed at Singhu (Delhi-Haryana) border as the protest looks set to intensify further as more farmers are expected to join the ongoing agitation at Delhi's border points to press for their demands. Over 2,000 women from the families of those protesting at the Singhu border here are likely to join the demonstration in the coming days. Farmer leaders said they were making arrangements for the women coming from different parts of Punjab. Tents are being put up, a separate langar is being planned, and extra temporary toilets are being arranged, they added.
With farmers from different states camping at Delhi's Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur border points for over two weeks to demand a repeal of the farm laws enacted in September, several roads have been closed, and commuters advised to take alternative routes to avoid inconvenience.
PM Modi to meet farmers in Kutch today
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with members of the farming community in Gujarat's Kutch. PM Modi will hold talks with the farmers to dispel their misconceptions over the new laws. According to a release by the state government's Information Department, a group of Sikh farmers, settled in areas near the Indo-Pak border, has been invited for an interaction with the Prime Minister.
Farmers, most of them from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting since November 26 outside Delhi against the three agri laws -- the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.
10 farmers' groups extend support to govt
In another related development, a new group of 10 farmers' unions from seven states on Monday extended their support to the Centre over its decision to undertake the necessary amendments in the three contentious farm laws. Under the banner of the All-India Kisan Coordination Committee (AIKCC), the group of farmers belonging to states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Maharashtra, the unions were convinced that the recent farm acts are for the benefit of farmers across India and will save farmers from the clutches of middlemen who exploited them over the years.
They were of the opinion that the laws will ensure freedom of choice to farmers in sale and purchase of agri-produce and allow barrier-free trade and commerce outside premises of Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees. The unions expressed their support after a meeting with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar at his office in Delhi.
The farmers, in a written memorandum, said that they agreed with the government's proposal to suitably amend the three farm laws which is the centre of deadlock leading to ongoing protest at Delhi's different borders since November 26.
Thousands of farmers under the leadership of over 32 farm unions are sitting on demonstration for the last 20 days. The AIKCC group appealed to the farmers to support the government's proposal regarding amendments in the three laws.
Farmers' protest may impact economic recovery: CII
The current agitation by farmers has led to supply chain disruptions, which will impact the economy in the coming days and may impinge upon the ongoing recovery from the economic contraction due to COVID-19, industry body CII said on Monday.
"Given the challenge to get the economy back on the growth trajectory, Confederation of Indian Industry urges all the stakeholders to urgently seek ways to end the ongoing protests and reach an amicable solution, in the interest of industry and economy," CII said.
The already broken supply-chain which was recovering post the pandemic-induced lockdown has come under severe stress, CII stated. According to the chamber, around two-thirds of consignments in transit are taking 50 per cent extra time to reach their destinations in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi-NCR.