Farmer unions ready to resume talks with Centre on repealing agri laws, says Rakesh Tikait

Chandigarh: Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait on Sunday said farmer unions were ready to resume talks with the Centre, asserting that the discussion would have to be about repealing the new farm laws.

He said there is no question of farmers returning home from the protest sites unless their demands are met.

Tikait was interacting with reporters in Mohali, where he had gone to offer condolences to the family of Abhay Singh Sandhu. Sandhu, the nephew of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh, died recently due to post-COVID complications.

"When the government wants to talk, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha will talk,” Tikait said, asserting that it has to be about repealing the Centre''s new farm laws.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of over 40 protesting farmer unions, on Friday had written to the prime minister, urging resumption of talks over the three farm laws they have been agitating against since November last year.

Several rounds of talks between farmers and the government have failed to break the deadlock over the three central laws.

A government panel had met farmers leaders on 22 January. There have been no talks between the two sides since 26 January when the farmers' tractor rally in the national capital turned violent.

Tikait said 26 May will mark six months of the farmers' protest at Delhi borders.

"For six months, farmers have been protesting at border points, but the government is not listening,” he said.

Twelve major opposition parties, including the Congress, TMC, Left parties, SP, NCP and the DMK, on Sunday extended their support to a countrywide protest call given by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha on 26 May.

According to Haryana BKU chief Gurnam Singh Chaduni, farmers in large numbers from Karnal district on Sunday left for the Singhu border as farmers will be observing May 26 as "black day" to mark six months of their protest.

Farmers have been camping at Delhi's borders since November 2020 demanding 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 rolled back and a new law made to guarantee minimum support price for crops.

The government, however, has maintained the three central laws are pro-farmer.