Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader, Rakesh Tikait, said on Sunday that farmer unions were ready to resume negotiations with the Centre, but that the conversation would have to focus on repealing the new agricultural laws. He stated that farmers will not return home from protest locations till their demands are granted.
Tikait spoke with the media in Mohali, where he had gone to express his condolences to the family of Abhay Singh Sandhu. Sandhu, the nephew of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh, passed away recently as a result of COVID-19. Tikait stated, “When the government wants to speak, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha will talk,” adding that it must be about abolishing the Centre’s new agriculture laws.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella group of over 40 protesting farmer unions, wrote to prime minister Narendra Modi on Friday, seeking the reopening of discussions on the three farm laws that they have been revolting against since November last year. Several rounds of negotiations between farmers and the government have failed to break the impasse over the three laws in question.
There have been no negotiations between the two parties since January 26, when a farmers’ tractor rally in the national capital became violent. Tikait observed that May 26 will mark the six-month anniversary of the farmers’ protest at Delhi’s borders.
On Sunday, twelve major opposition parties, including the Congress, TMC, Samajwadi Party, Nationalist Congress Party and DMK, declared their support for the Samyukta Kisan Morcha’s nationwide protest call for May 26.
Read more about the farm bill protests
Farmers from the Karnal district travelled towards the Singhu border in large numbers on Sunday, according to Haryana BKU leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni, in preparation for May 26. He said that the farmers will observe it as a “black day” and mark six months of their protest.
The protesting farmers have been camping on Delhi’s outskirts, asking that the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 be repealed, and a new law to ensure minimum support prices for crops be enacted. The government, on the other hand, has argued that the three central laws are for the optimum benefits of the farmers.