Govt must earn farmers' trust, shelve pollution ordinance & power bill before talks: Cong MPs

·3-min read

New Delhi, Dec 27 (PTI) Two Congress MPs from Punjab on Sunday said the Centre should withdraw the recent stubble burning ordinance and the Electricity Amendment Bill before its next round of talks with protesting farmer unions so that the dialogue to end the stalemate over three agri-marketing laws can progress smoothly.

The government must earn trust of the protesting farmers, said parliamentarians Ravneet Singh Bittu and Jasbir Singh Gill who have been staging a sit-in at Jantar Mantar here for three weeks now in solidarity with the ongoing agitation.

Farmer groups protesting against the Centre's three farm laws have proposed a meeting with the government at 11 am on December 29. Previously, several rounds of talks between the farmer unions and the government have failed to break the deadlock.

Besides demanding the repeal of the three farm laws, the agitating farmers want the government to withdraw the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2020 and to shelve the Electricity Amendment Bill.

Addressing a press conference at the Congress headquarters here, Bittu said, 'The government should stop being arrogant and should repeal the laws relating to power dues and stubble burning penalty.' The two Congress MPs from Punjab accused the government of being insensitive towards farmers and asked how many of them would have to sacrifice their lives before the issue is resolved.

Bittu said that till the time the farmers' issue is resolved, Prime minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues should sleep on the floor to empathise with the farmers protesting in the cold.

Bittu alleged that the prime minister was not repealing the laws because of his 'stubbornness' and said governments act for the welfare of people and not against their interests.

The Congress leaders said during the prime minister's 'Mann ki Baat' radio address on Sunday, they protested by beating 'thalis' at Jantar Mantar.

Bittu said farmers' sons who are protecting the borders of the country are asking again and again when their parents would return home.

Gill said the agitation has brought together the farmers of Haryana and Punjab who, traditionally, have not been on the same page over the sharing of river waters.

He attacked the BJP governments in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand for registering cases against protesting farmers.

'The farmers are not afraid of these cases. The prime minister must repeal the laws,' he said.

'You will not lose if you take back the laws. Acknowledging a wrong means being courageous. Your stature will grow by conceding to the farmers' demand,' he told the prime minister.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and some other states have been protesting at various border points of Delhi against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.

Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the central government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the mandi system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. PTI SKC SMN SMN