Farmers Insist on Repeal of Laws; Centre Hopes for Conclusion Soon
The next round of talks between Centre and farmers’ leaders after Monday will be held at 2 pm on Friday, 8 January.
The seventh round of talks over the contentious farm laws between the agitating farmers and the Centre, which was being held at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan on Monday, 4 January, has concluded. The next round of talks will be held at 2 pm on Friday, 8 January, ANI reported.
According to PTI, the farmers’ unions will meet on Tuesday to discuss further action.
“We insisted on repeal of laws, the government will come back to us post internal consultation,” the farmers’ leaders reportedly said.
Speaking to the media, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, “We wanted farmer unions to discuss three laws clause-wise. We could not reach any solution as farmer unions remained adamant on the repeal of the laws.”
The minister said that looking at Monday’s discussion, he hoped there they would have a meaningful discussion during the next meeting, which would lead to a conclusion. “Both sides need to make efforts to find a solution,” Tomar further said.
“Discussion took place on our demands - repeal of the three laws and MSP... Kanoon wapasi nahi, to ghar wapasi nahi (We will not go home until the laws are withdrawn),” Rakesh Tikait, spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Union said, according to ANI.
“The government is under tremendous pressure. We all said that this is our demand (repeal of the laws). We don't want discussion on any other topic except for on repeal of the laws. Protests will not be withdrawn until repeal of laws,” Hannan Mollah, General Secretary, All India Kisan Sabha reportedly said.
Yudhvir Singh of the Bhartiya Kisan Union said, "The government wants to take us towards amendments but we will not accept this proposal .The minister wanted us to discuss the laws point-wise. We rejected it and said that there is no point in discussing the laws because we want their complete rollback."
Earlier in the day, at the talks, the farm leaders and the government maintained silence for two minutes to offer tribute to the farmers who have lost their lives in the ongoing protests.
So far, 60 farmers have lost their life since the protests began, claimed Rakesh Tikait, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson. He said the ‘Centre is answerable’ since one farmer is allegedly dying every 16 hours, as reported by ANI.
Ahead of the meeting, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said he was hopeful that a "positive solution" will be found on Monday. "We will discuss all issues in the meeting," he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
After the last round of talks, on 30 December, the government had said a consensus had been reached on two other issues, pertaining to the Electricity Amendment Bill and the 'Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2020'.
But the impasse over the farm laws and MSP continues. Before the seventh round of talks began, farm leaders on Monday reiterated their demand for the repeal of the laws.
"Our demands are the same as before – repeal the three farm laws and guarantee MSP (minimum support price). If our demands aren't met, then, we'll hold a tractor march on 6 January and also on 26 January," Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee's Joint Secretary Sukhwinder S Sabra, was quoted as saying by ANI.
Plans to Intensify Protest if Talks Fail
On Saturday, farm leaders had announced plans to intensify their protest if the talks with the government fail and if there is no relief from the Supreme Court.
In a press conference, the seven-member Coordination Committee of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha said that farmers will march into Delhi on 26 January – Republic Day – with their tractors, trolleys and other vehicles to protest against the new farm legislations.
“There will be a tractor parade from Singhu, like a Republic Day parade... From 6 to 20 January, we will give a call to organise rallies across the nation to pressurise the government. On 26 January, farmers all over India will parade their tractors with flags... and there will be tractor march (in) Delhi... If the demands aren’t met by 26 January, farmers who are stationed at the Delhi borders will enter Delhi and exercise their democratic rights and go on a parade,” Krantikari Kisan Union President Darshan Pal had said.
The protests against the farm laws around the borders of Delhi-NCR have been going on for more than a month now, leading to several roads being blocked.
While the farmers have insisted on the repeal of the three laws, the Centre has not been willing to offer anything beyond amendments to the Acts. The government has posited the contentious laws as much-needed reforms in the agricultural sector that will give farmers more freedom to sell their produce.
But protesting farmers have argued that they will lead to the dismantling of the MSP system, and prioritise corporate interests.
(With inputs from ANI)
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