Farmer leaders on Wednesday described the Union cabinet approval for a bill repealing the contentious farm laws as “just a formality” and asked the government to resolve their other demands, such as legally guaranteed minimum support prices for crops.
They welcomed the cabinet decision but said this was only the farmers’ first victory and that their agitation would go on.
The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021, approved after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement that the three laws would be revoked, is to be introduced in the Lok Sabha during the winter session of Parliament, which begins on November 29.
“Today’s cabinet approval of a bill repealing the three farm laws, of which the announcement had already been made by Prime Minister Modi, was just a formality,” Shiv Kumar “Kaka” of the Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh (RKM) told PTI.
“It is just a process. Now, what we want from the government is to take up our other demands. Ideally, after they finally decided to repeal the laws they should have had another round of talks with us during which we would have discussed the MSP issue as well. This way the government could have gone ahead with both the bills — repealing the farm laws and legalising MSP — simultaneously.”
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella organisation of farmer bodies that is leading the movement, had on Sunday written to the Prime Minister urging immediate talks on the farmers’ remaining six demands.
These include the dismissal and arrest of Union minister of state for home Ajay Mishra Teni over the Lakhimpur Kheri carnage, withdrawal of false cases against farmers, and compensation for farmer deaths during the agitation. The farmers also want withdrawal of an electricity bill and the scrapping of provisions in an anti-pollution law that punish stubble burning.
Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait tweeted on Wednesday that he would declare victory only when farmers start getting the “right price” for their crops.
“This protest will not end yet. We have a meeting on November 27 after which we shall take further decisions,” he posted in Hindi.
“Modiji has said the farmers’ income would double from January 1, so we will ask him how it can be done. The farmers’ victory will be ensured when they get the right price for their crops.”
Another farmer leader, Kavita Kuruganti, termed the Union cabinet nod a “logical step” in the process of tabling the bill that she said “doesn’t hold any more significance than what they have already stated on November 19” — the day Modi announced repeal of the three laws.
“We will wait for the other demands to be addressed,” Kuruganti, a Morcha member, said.
However, farmer leader and Rashtriya Kisan Majdoor Sabha representative Abhimanyu Kohar said the cabinet approval for the repeal of the three laws marked a “big day” since it made the government decision “official”.
”This is a welcome step, and a big day for not only our movement but for democracy as well. Because, don’t forget this was a fight for democratic rights as well,” he said.
“Our victory gives the stamp of approval to the Gandhian way of non-violent movement where people from every caste, creed, sex and religion participated. That said, our stand is clear and we’ll continue fighting till all our demands are met.”