Friday’s talks will be between the Ministerial Committee, which includes Tomar on farmers protest
ON THE DAY of the eighth round of talks with farmers‘ organizations to end agricultural law, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday met with religious leader Baba Lakha Singh, one of the leaders of the Nanaksar Sikh sect in Punjab. When Father Lakha Singh, who had been organizing langar in farmers protest areas, said he wished to mediate between the government and the protesting farmers, Tomar dismissed the meeting and the farm unions said the religious leader did not speak for them.
Friday’s talks will be between a committee of ministers including Tomar, Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of Trade and Industry Som Prakash, and 41 representatives of farm associations. Officials from the Department of Agriculture on Thursday held informal internal discussions to prepare for the meeting. Sources said that before the talks this afternoon, ministers could ask Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah.
With the government insisting that there is no issue of agreeing with the farmers‘ request to repeal the rules, State Minister of Agriculture Kailash Choudhary said some changes were planned for the agricultural sector, and this could lead to protests. “Farm unions are making a lot of noise under the influence of the Arabs (ambassadors of the commission). This is the beginning. Going forward, the Pest Control Bill (the Pesticide Control Bill, 2020) and the Seed Bill will also come in handy. At the same time, they (farmers) can be misled… So, this is the beginning of a change for farmers, ”he said.
Baba Lakha Singh said he had told farmers’ unions about his meeting with Tomar, and asked them to return if they had a message from the government. In what Tomar told him, he said, “It would not be wise to discuss anything in public. It can reduce purpose. ”
Asked how the meeting came about, he said it did not matter if he was invited or met Tomar alone. “The important thing is that I want this matter resolved. I want to work as a mediator between the government and farmers. I had a good meeting with Tomar, ”said Baba Lakha Singh.
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The religious leader had strongly advised the farmer’s vigor before taking their protest into the Delhi border. He also said he knew the religious leader of the Nakanar sect who committed suicide on December 17 near Kundli, leaving a suicide note saying he was saddened by the suffering of protesters.
Tomar said they had not yet offered a proposal to the religious leader. “The government has said that if there is any proposal other than the repeal, it can talk about it.” Asked if he would meet with other Punjab religious leaders to negotiate with the protesting farmers, the minister said, “I will meet everyone – be it farmers or leaders.”
Tomar also said he had known Father Lakha Singh before. “I was always talking to him… But today he came to meet me in Delhi, it was news.”
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Agmohan Singh Patiala of BKU (Dakunda) said he had been in contact with 13-14 prominent unions and their leaders and had spoken to Krantikari Kisan Union and BKU (Rajjewal). “We have never heard of Baba Lakha Singh. There are 31 unions and I don’t know if he has talked to one or two unions. He did not speak to the 13-14 prominent unions. And no union has informed of any proposal from Lakha Singh to any of our group on WhatsApp. ”
Jagmohan Singh added that the mediator could do little. “We want the rules to be abolished. What can an arbitrator do in this situation? If we could return to Punjab without breaking the rules, we would be like the living dead. ”
Baba Lakha Singh in farmers protest, whose place is in the Ludhiana region, is associated with Sant Samaj, who had an influence during the Akali Dal-BJP government in Punjab. Boomi Pujan was one of the guests at the Ayodhya Ram temple.