Farmers, who continue to lead protests against new farm laws maintaining their stand that they want new legislation to be repealed, on Thursday warned the Centre for another tractor march on Republic Day (January 26).
"We will participate in the parade on 26th January. The tanks will be on one side and the tractors on the other. Today's rally was good. People will come to Delhi in large numbers on that day too to take part in the parade," said Rakesh Tikat, spokesperson, Bhartiya Kisan Union.
Meanwhile, speaking on the impasse, Punjab BJP leader Surjit Kumar Jyani who met Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday said, "Government is ready to listen but farmers are being stubborn. Law & order in Punjab is ruined. Sit-in protests are being done outside houses of our workers. The language being used and the kind of hooliganism in Punjab — we talked about it."
He further added that the government is ready to fulfil all the demands of farmers. But farmers are now saying that the laws be repealed. Why are they saying that? I think farmer unions don't want a solution. I think their plan is something else
The developments have come just a before the eighth round of talks. The government and the farmer unions stuck to their respective positions on Thursday -- the agitating farmers took out tractor rallies to press their demand for rollback of new agri laws and the Centre asserted it is ready to consider any proposal other than their repeal.
Rumours of some states allowed to opt-out of Central laws doing rounds
As both sides looked for a resolution to the over one-month-long deadlock, rumours about some states being allowed to opt-out of the central laws started doing the rounds, but the agitating unions said they had not received any such proposal from the government.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar too answered in the negative when he was asked by reporters if there was any proposal to give state governments the freedom to implement the new laws.
Narendra Singh Tomar, Piyush Goyal leading talks with farmers
Tomar, along with Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, has been leading the government's negotiations with 40 protesting farmer union leaders. The latest round of talks to be held at Vigyan Bhavan at 2PM on Friday is crucial as the previous meeting on January 4 remained inconclusive with both sides sticking to their positions.
There was some breakthrough in the sixth round of talks on December 30 when the government conceded to two demands of the agitating farmers pertaining to power subsidy and stubble burning. The previous rounds of talks had failed to make any headway.
Farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka, a senior member of the Samkyukt Kisan Morch, said that unions have not received any proposal for allowing some states to opt-out and asserted that they will reject the same if it is sent to them.
"I want to make it clear that Samkyukt Kisan Morcha has not received any proposal on allowing states to opt out of the three farm laws. We will not accept anything less than the repeal of three agriculture laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price for our crops," Kakka told PTI.
"If it is true (about any such proposal), it is a divide and rule strategy by the government," the farmer leader also said.
The Samkyukt Kisan Morch is an umbrella body of around 40 farmer unions protesting at several Delhi border points for the last 43 days against the new agri laws.
Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) chief Joginder Singh Ugrahan, who is also a senior member of the Morcha, denied receiving any proposal from the government.
"We have not got anything (any new proposal) from the government," Ugrahan told PTI.
During an interaction through Facebook, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, who is actively participating in the ongoing protest against the new farm laws, accused the government of "fuelling such rumours". "It is being discussed in the media that the government has sent a proposal to farmer unions. We have not received any proposal from the government's side," Yadav said.
Earlier in the day, renowned religious leader Baba Lakha met Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, even as the latter denied giving any proposal to the former. Tomar said that the government is ready to consider any proposal other than repeal of three farm laws, the key demand of the protesting farmers.
"I cannot say, I cannot say anything right now. In fact, it depends on what issues that will come up for discussion in the meeting," Tomar said when asked about the likely outcome of the January 8 meeting.
(With inputs from PTI)