New Delhi: Despite a marathon meeting with two Union ministers that lasted for five hours, farmer leaders declared that they were not satisfied with the government’s response to their demands and announced that they would march to Delhi on Tuesday. Sarwan Singh Pandher, a farmer leader, told the media that the government was not serious about addressing their issues and that they had no choice but to intensify their agitation. “We do not think they want to fulfil our demands… Tomorrow, we will march towards Delhi at 10 am,” he said.
The meeting, which was the second round of talks between the farmer leaders and the Centre, was held at the Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration in Sector 26. The ministers who represented the government were Piyush Goyal, the Food and Consumer Affairs Minister, and Arjun Munda, the Agriculture Minister.
The farmer leaders, who belonged to the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, among others, discussed various issues with the ministers, but could not reach a consensus on their main demand of a legal guarantee to the minimum support price (MSP) for crops.
Sources said that the government agreed to some of the farmers’ demands, such as withdrawing the cases against them filed during the 2020-21 protest against the farm laws that were later repealed, and giving compensation to the families of the farmers who lost their lives during the agitation. However, these concessions were not enough to placate the farmers, who insisted on a legal backing to the MSP.
Pandher said that the government did not show any willingness to give them what they wanted and that they had to take a firm stand. “We told them to take a decision. They did not take any decision on the farmers’ demand of giving legal guarantee to the minimum support price,” he said.
The farmers also demanded the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, pensions for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, withdrawal of police cases and justice for the victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act 2013, withdrawal from the World Trade Organisation, and compensation for the families of the farmers who died during the previous agitation, among others.
The farmer leaders were accompanied by Punjab Cabinet Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, who said that the state government supported their cause. Punjab’s Chief Secretary Anurag Verma and Director General of Police Gaurav Yadav were also present in the meeting.
Before heading to Chandigarh for the talks, the farmer leaders had a meeting in Amb Sahib in Punjab’s Mohali. The first meeting with the Union ministers was held on February 8, in which the farmer organisations had a detailed discussion with the government.