‘Deadlock’ in 11th Round of Talks; Govt Asks Farmers to Reconsider
Farmer leaders also reportedly told the police that it is for the govt to ensure that the tractor rally is peaceful.
The eleventh round of talks between the farm leaders and the Centre over the government’s contentious new farm laws concluded on Friday, 22 January, at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan, with no fixed date for their next meeting.
In a press note, released after the talks, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha informed that a “deadlock” arose again in the 11th round of talks, and the farmers, yet again, demanded a repeal of the new contentious farm laws.
The Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, on his part, according to ANI, said that the government has asked the farmers to reconsider the proposal and convey their decision by Saturday.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, in their press note said: “The deadlock again arose in the meeting with the central government today. The government came with the proposal to suspend these laws for 18 months, while the farmers demanded the repeal of the laws.”
The press note also said that the farmer unions are in talks with the police officer, and the officers proposed a roadmap in front of the farmer leaders.
“Leaders will give their reply on this proposal after holding farm unions meeting tomorrow,” it added.
What the Union Agriculture Minister Said
“We asked them to reconsider our proposal as it is in the interest of farmers and the country. We asked them to convey their decision by tomorrow (Saturday),” the Union Agriculture Minister said.
He also alleged that talks remained inconclusive “as farmers' welfare was not at the heart of talks from the unions’ side.”
“There are forces that want the agitation to continue and ensuring that no good comes out of it,” said Tomar.
But he also added that they are hopeful that the farmer unions will consider their proposal.
“I don't want to speculate, but we're hopeful farmer unions will consider positively our proposal to suspend laws and find a solution,” he said.
Tomar, also, according to PTI said that they have asked the farmers to “come up with their own proposal, other than repeal, if they have anything better than our offer.”
“Farmers’ unions said that they only want the repeal of the laws despite the government asking for alternatives,” he added.
Farmer leaders have reportedly said that even though the meeting may have lasted five hours, the two sides sat face to face for less than 30 minutes.
The government, according to PTI, has said that the farmers must internally discuss the proposal of suspending the farm laws.
Tomar has said that there are no problems with the laws, but the government has offered to suspend them ‘as a mark of respect for protesting farmers.’ He also said, as per PTI, that there will be another meeting if the farmers are ready to discuss the suspension of the laws.
Tomar and Union Minister Piyush Goyal had attended the meeting on behalf of the Centre.
'Tractor Rally Will Take Place... Govt to Ensure It is Peaceful’
Rakesh Tikat, Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson, according to ANI, said: “During the meeting, the government offered to put the implementation of the farm laws on hold for two years and said that the next round of meeting can take place only if farmer unions are ready to accept the proposal.”
He also said: “As planned, the tractor rally will take place on 26 January.”
Farmer leaders also told PTI that they have informed the police that the tractor rally will take place and that it is for the government to ensure that it is peaceful.
The government, according to ANI, said on Friday: “We gave a proposal to farmers and if they have a better proposal then they can come to us.”
“The government’s strategy was to throw a net at us, to hide poison inside sweets. They want to end protests somehow,” said SS Pandher of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, ahead of Friday’s meeting.
Farmers unions on Thursday rejected the proposal put forth by the government to suspend the farm laws for a mutually-agreed period. A day earlier, the central government, during the tenth round of talks with protesting farmers, proposed to submit an affidavit in the Supreme Court to put a hold on the three farm laws for one-and-a-half years.
The proposal to keep the farm laws in abeyance needs to be seen in light of the Punjab Assembly elections that are scheduled for early next year.
Speaking about Friday’s round of talks with the Centre, All India Kisan Sabha General Secretary, Hannan Mollah, said, “There isn't much expectation. Government made proposals which we took to the leadership and general body. After discussion, almost unitedly they rejected proposals. Government must understand the movement's mood and work accordingly.”
Mollah also broached the issue of the farmers’ Republic Day Tractor Rally to ANI, saying “Kisans (farmers) have started coming to the outer Ring Road and they will come. We can't change the program. The rally will be held as declared.”
Farmer representatives have been meeting Haryana and Delhi Police officials seeking permission for a tractor rally on Republic Day, but the police have been telling them that there will be security concerns.
Thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting for nearly two months at various points of Delhi-NCR’s borders against the three farm laws enacted by the central government in September 2020.
(With inputs from ANI.)
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