Govt-farmers talks inconclusive; next meeting on Jan 8



New Delhi: The seventh round of talks between protesting unions and three central ministers ended inconclusively on Monday as farmer groups stuck to their demand for the repeal of three farm laws, while the government listed out various benefits of the new Acts for the growth of the country’s agriculture sector.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said he remains hopeful of a solution in the next meeting on January 8, but asserted that efforts need to be made from both sides for a solution to be reached (taali dono haathon se bajti hai).
He also said no outcome could be reached in today’s meeting as farmer leaders remained adamant on one issue of repeal of the laws, but the government wanted a clause-wise discussion on the legislations to take forward the talks.
Farmer leaders, however, alleged that it was the government’s “ego problem” that was coming in the way of resolving the issues and they insisted they would not relent on their key demands for the repeal of the three laws and a legal guarantee for the MSP (minimum support price) system for procurement of their crops.
From the very beginning of the meeting, union leaders kept on insisting on the repeal of the three contentious farm laws and the two sides took a long break after just about one hour of discussions.
During the break, representatives of protesting farmers had their own food, arranged from langar (community kitchen), as they have been doing for the last few times.
However, unlike the last round of talks on December 30, the ministers did not join the union leaders for the langar food and were seen having their own discussion separately during the break, which lasted for almost two hours.
The two sides got together again to resume their discussions at around 5.15 pm, but no headway could be made as the talks remained focussed on the farmers’ demand for the repeal of the Acts.
Farmer leaders said the government said it needs to consult internally and thereafter it would come back to the unions.
The union leaders will also have their own meeting on Tuesday to decide their next course of action.
In Monday’s talks, another key demand of farmers for a legal guarantee to the Minimum Support Price (MSP) procurement system barely came up for discussion.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various Delhi borders for over a month against the three laws. They have stayed put despite heavy rains and waterlogging at protest sites over the last couple of days, besides severe cold weather conditions prevailing in and around the national capital.
Kavitha Kurungati of Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch, said, “The standoff continued as the government is talking about benefits of the laws and we are asking for the repeal of those laws.”
“The government said they will consult further and get back to us,” she said.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) President Balbir Singh Rajewal said farmers will not agree to anything less than the repeal of three farms laws.
“We will discuss only the MSP issue and the repeal of laws. It is the ego problem of the government that is coming in way of resolving issues,” he said.


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