New Delhi: The confusion on ending farmers’ protest is visible as the leaders while talking exclusively to India Ahead’s Editor-in-Chief Bhupendra Chaubey differed on whether they will call off the protest after the Central Government sent a proposal addressing the demands forwarded by the farmers’ body.
In an exclusive interview with India Ahead, the national spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Union from Uttar Pradesh, Rakesh Tikait said that the Government must come to the table and hold talks in order to iron out the differences between the farmers and Centre. He was insistent while discussing the issues like cases filed against farmers and tractors which were confiscated during tractor rally in Delhi, and underlined that the Centre should constitute a committee much like the farmer group and hold discussions and then will they end the protests.
Bhupendra Chaubey: Can the proposals sent to the government become the reason to call off the protests that have been going on since Nov 26, 2020?
Rakesh Tikait: The govt has said yes to our demands such as revoking the cases on farmers but has added some conditions to the issue. You should understand that the protests will end as soon as the govt is shows its readiness.
but it doesnt want
Bhupendra Chaubey: But they have sent a proposal to the farmers?
Rakesh Tikait: They want to defame the protests. If the proposal was sent and we accept it then what is the guarantee that it will come to see the light. We want everything done on the table.
Bhupendra Chaubey: Can the proposal be considered as the first step towards resolution?
Rakesh Tikait: Yes it can be considered as the first step towards resolution of the farmer’s issue only when they sit with us face to face. But the govt is not ready to sit with us, this is the problem.
Bhupendra Chaubey: From where did u receive the proposal?
Rakesh Tikait: We did receive it from the government, but there is no name, no authority to hold them responsible for their words.
Bhupendra Chaubey: Then you should reject the proposal?
Rakesh Tikait: We cannot end the protest on just a proposal or the first step, we need at least 5 selected members to hold talks and resolve the objections that we have raised.
Bhupendra Chaubey: But a while ago Yogendra Yadav had said that the govt’s move is commendable, if all goes well the protests may end at 2 pm on Dec 8?
Rakesh Tikait: We want a committee to be formed by the Central govt who will sit with us and negotiate further. We cannot go forward without concrete steps, we want someone to talk and guarantee that tractors in Delhi will be left alone. Who will talk to us, the policeman or a separate authority?
Bhupendra Chaubey: So what do you want exactly?
Rakesh Tikait: On the table talks.
Bhupendra Chaubey: So what will tomorrow’s farmers’ meet will decide?
Rakesh Tikait: We have sent some proposals back to the government for deliberations like cases filed against farmers, we want them to revoke those first but the Centre should make a committee. We want them to first talk with us about what kind of committee will they form and who will take part in them. If they want to return those tractors but there are no talks about that, this is not how the talks will go forward. It’s all good on paper but there is no guarantee on the issue.
On the contrary, Yogendra Yadav, one of the founders of Jai Kisan Andolan and Swaraj India, while talking to India Ahead, said that the step to revoke farm laws by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 19 was a ‘significant step’.
Bhupendra Chaubey: What is govt trying to convey to the farmers if at all they are trying to convey?
Yogendra Yadav: Something significant is being conveyed, I can confirm that we have taken a significant step forward today. The PM declared on the Nov 19 that three laws would be withdrawn, which was a giant step.
What remained was six issues that we reminded him through a letter and unfortunately for two weeks, we didn’t get any response. After two weeks, we said if a letter is not enough we then appointed a 5-member committee of farmer leaders from different states. Finally today we have received a response, the silence has been broken, that to my mind itself is a significant step than the content itself.
The conversation has begun, the government has responded finally on 5 of the six points that we had raised.
Bhupendra Chaubey: What are the points that you had raised?
Yogendra Yadav: Number one which is the most important one is the cases that are pending against farmers. The false cases that are registered against farmers in the course of the movement. And when any movement concludes, that is the first thing you have to deal with. The govt had not responded so far but today they have said that yes in principle we are willing to take back—the UP, Haryana and Central govt are willing to take back the cases provided we call off the movement first.
The second issue was compensation to the farmers who have martyred during this agitation, the Centre has given assurance that two governments will give compensations-Punjab has already declared it however they have not disclosed the amount and the exact nature of the compensation.
The third issue is related to the electricity bill to which the Centre said we will consult stakeholders. We had said that do not bring the current version in the Parliament. The government had assured us earlier but had gone back on the issue. The fourth issue is the air pollution act, in which a small technical issue remains where the farmers can be penalised. The fifth and very important issue for many is that of the MSP. The Government said that we will constitute a committee and we will have farmer representatives in that along with other state representatives.
We don’t know what is the mandate of the committee and the composition of the committee. But I would say that it is a step forward.
Bhupendra Chaubey: Today you say it is a step forward, which would likely lead to the conclusion of the farmers’ protest tomorrow?
Yogendra Yadav: Yes I would say that unhesitatingly that we have now reached the concluding stage of the discussions and negotiations. And if the government displays the same spirit that it has displayed today, and it continues then on behalf of the farmers I assure you that we are in the constructive spirit right now because our big three demands have been addressed.