NEW DELHI/BATHINDA: A day before the ninth round of talks between the government and farm unions opposed to the new agri laws, B S Mann, one of the four members of the Supreme Court-appointed committee set up to examine the legislations, opted out of the panel saying he was doing so in view of “prevailing sentiments” and apprehensions of farmers.
The decision of the national president of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) and chairman of the pro-reform umbrella body AIKCC was welcomed by the agitating unions who urged the other three members to also recuse from the committee formed to discuss various aspects of the laws with stakeholders and submit its report to the apex court within two months.
Interestingly, talks between the 40-odd unions, mainly from Punjab and a few from Haryana and western UP, with the Centre are on course with the discussions on Friday expected to centre around the demand for a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP).
Yogendra urges Gulati to also quit
Indicating the agenda, farmer representative Darshan Pal told TOI, “We will attend the meeting with central ministers and discuss various aspects related to MSP of various crops and state procurement of crops. We want the government to give a legal guarantee on MSP and see how it reacts to it.”
This could mean that unlike the last round, where talks couldn’t make headway as the unions brought up the repeal demand upfront, there might be a discussion on MSP.
Meanwhile, Mann tweeted his recusal from the SC panel a day after agitating farm groups rejected the committee and said its members were pro-farm laws. The unions also said they would reject the panel even if it was expanded to include more members. “As a farmer myself and a union leader, in view of the prevailing sentiments and apprehensions among the farm unions and the public in general, I am ready to sacrifice any position offered or given to me so as to not compromise the interests of Punjab and farmers of the country,” Mann said.
His move comes in the wake of the anti-farm laws unions deciding not to appear before the panel. The committee’s mandate suggests it is to offer improvements and deletions but not recommend scrapping the laws.
Immediately after Mann’s announcement, Jai Kisan Andolan’s leader Yogendra Yadav urged agriculture expert Ashok Gulati, a member of the panel, to follow suit while other leaders from the anti-farm laws umbrella body, AIKSCC, appealed to Shetkari Sanghatana chief Anil Ghanwat to opt out.
Urging Gulati to leave the panel, Yadav tweeted: “He (Gulati) is the intellectual father of these three Acts. We can agree to disagree. But I hope he will agree that he cannot be an umpire in a match where he has taken part as a player.” The other members are, however, not going to leave the committee.