Farmers’ organizations in Punjab on Wednesday boycotted a meeting called by the Union Agriculture Ministry to resolve the objection on new agricultural laws and accused the government of being double-tricks. The farmer organizations whom the Central Government had invited to negotiate the three disputed agricultural laws recently, boycotted the meeting with Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Aggarwal as no ministers were present for this hearing in the meeting.
According to reports, farmers’ representatives Joginder Singh and Jagmohan Singh said that despite calling the leaders of organizations for talks with the Agriculture Secretary in New Delhi, the Union Agriculture Minister was holding a meeting in Punjab and spreading propaganda.
The meeting was called at the Krishi Bhavan amidst police security to avoid any protests. After the meeting, agitated peasant representatives were seen shouting slogans and tearing down copies of new agricultural laws outside Krishi Bhavan.
Darshan Pal, a member of the coordination committee of all 29 farmer organizations, told PTI-Bhasha after the meeting, “No discussion was held properly. Neither Union Agriculture Minister nor Junior Minister was present to voice our concerns. We asked why the ministers are not meeting us, the government calls us here and the ministers are holding virtual meetings in Punjab, why such a double standard is being adopted. So no proper response was received.” He said that since Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal, who was presiding over the meeting, had no response, the farmers’ associations decided to boycott the meeting.
Representatives of farmers Dr Darshan Pal and Kulwant Singh Sandhu said, ‘We came for the meeting because we did not want to give the impression that farmers do not want to negotiate. But we also want to meet the Prime Minister and the Agriculture Minister.
BharatiyaKisan Union (BKU) leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said that representatives of farmers will meet in Chandigarh on Thursday to chalk out the strategy ahead.
He said, ‘He (Agriculture Secretary) is constantly saying that he wants to work as a bridge to help. We asked why no minister was present to talk to us.
Rajewal said, ‘On the one hand, they call us here and on the other hand the Union Minister is promoting Propaganda in Punjab. We told the Agriculture Secretary that it is not just Punjab protests. We want to have a peaceful demonstration while trying to spoil the atmosphere.
During this, representatives of the farmers also submitted a demand letter to the government.
Former Food Processing Industries Minister Harsimrat Kaur, who resigned from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government over three agricultural laws after boycotting the meeting with the Agriculture Secretary, sharply criticized the government and said that the farmers have been insulted.
She tweeted, “Shocking that GOI called farmer organisations to Delhi to hold sham talks to discredit them. This is no way to behave with farmers agitating for 3 months. If GOI did not have any solution to the impasse it shouldn’t have called them to capital.”
In her second tweet, Badal targeted the double standard of the government as she tweeted, “I commend the farmer leaders who decided to skip the meeting as the meeting was being held by a government official while the Union Minister was explaining to the farmers of Punjab through video conferencing how the new farming laws would benefit them. These are just tricks.”
The twee further read, “If the Government of India is really serious about resolving the problems of the farmers, it should talk openly. Repeal agricultural laws rejected by farmers and farm laborers, and enact new laws that serve the interests of farmers, rather than large commercial enterprises.”
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and opposition Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said it was “insult” to farmers that the Central ministers skipped the meeting.
After the failure of Delhi talks, a meeting of farmers’ organizations will be very important in Kisan Bhawan Chandigarh on Thursday. In the meeting, the organizations will decide on opening or not opening the rail track. There is a lot of anger among the farmer unions after the negotiations failed in Delhi.