Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government offered on Wednesday to temporarily suspend the implementation of the country’s contentious agricultural reform laws for 12 to 18 months. These reforms were passed by the Parliament in September last year and have sparked continuous protests by farmers opposing the “commercialization” of agriculture. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court stayed implementation of the legislation to encourage good faith between the protesting farmers and the government.
The proposal was made during the tenth round of talks and is a serious move by the government to reach a consensus with the protesters against the new laws. The central government has also offered to submit an affidavit to the Supreme Court if a common agreement between stakeholders is met. The government has also offered to form a joint committee to find mutual solutions during the period of temporary suspension.
Notably, the core demand of the protesting farmers remains a total repeal of the laws, which has already been unequivocally rejected by the ruling party, BJP. In a full general body meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, which includes nearly 40 protesting farmers’ unions, the farmers’ leaders have already indicated that they will reject the government’s proposal and will not abandon their movement without a complete repeal.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court appointed panel has also begun consultation with stakeholders, despite the Morcha having rejected the panel for being comprised of pro-government members. Bhupinder Singh Mann, the President of Bhartiya Kisan Union has also recused himself from the court-appointed panel. With both the government and apex court failing to make any headway, prospects of an amicable resolution appear bleak.