The Centre must suspend the three “black” farm laws without delay and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should directly hold talks with the protesting farmers, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said on Wednesday.
The talks between the Centre and agitating farmer unions a day ago had failed to end the standoff over the new farm laws, and the two sides will meet again on Thursday. The outfits rejected the government’s offer to set up a committee to look into issues raised by them.
“The agriculture minister (Narendra Singh Tomar) is incompetent to even hold the conversation, so the prime minister must hold this conversation by leaving aside all prejudices and prefixed notions,” Surjewala told reporters here.
According to the Congress spokesperson, around 20,000 farmers have been booked either for stubble burning or in cases related to the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march.
“Modi government must, without delay, suspend these three black laws, withdraw the notification on punishing the farmer vis-a-vis burning of stubble and withdraw all the criminal cases lodged against the farmers,” he said. “And until the matter is resolved, let the laws remain suspended.”
Surjewala said the agriculture minister gave a “lollipop” of constituting a special committee, asking why was it not constituted to have consultation with various farmer organisations, their representatives, stakeholders and state governments even before the laws were framed.
He sought to know why the legislations were not referred to the special parliamentary committee as demanded by the Opposition in Parliament.
“Modi government is once again not only harming the interests of the farmers, but is hell-bent upon subjugating and suppressing the interests of the farmers at the alter of the crony-capitalist friends,” Surjewala said.
He demanded that the NDA government should say which farmers organisation in the country demanded any such law.
Surjewala also took a dig at the Jannayak Janta Party, the BJP’s coalition partner in Haryana, and accused it of trying to play both sides.
The JJP had suggested on Tuesday that the Centre should give a written assurance to farmers that the minimum support price system would continue.
“That is the duality and doublespeak of the JJP,” Surjewala said. “Dushyant Chautala (JJP leader and Haryana deputy CM) continues to cling to power and support the anti-agriculturist, anti-labour and anti-poor three black laws, and be part of the government,” he said.