Farmers protest: Government hardens stance, says 'ball in your court'
A three-member team of Union Ministers sat down with several farmer leaders for the eleventh round of talks to negotiate a resolution for the ongoing protests. Farmers nationwide have been protesting against the new agricultural laws, which the government had proposed to suspend for 18 months this week. As the farmers rejected the proposal, the government has indicated that it will not recede further.
Government kept talks brief; no future meeting set
Unlike the previous meetings, Friday's meeting was brief, lasting no longer than 30 minutes, farmer union leaders said. No date was set for the next round of talks. The Centre—represented by Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, and MoS for Commerce Som Parkash—said proposing a suspension is the "maximum we can do," All India Kisan Sabha's Hannan Mollah told NDTV.
'No discussion held today'
Mollah said, "Today's meeting was only 15-20 minutes... no discussion was held. The government said we have done the maximum we can do... if (the farmers) want to go forward, tell us by noon tomorrow and we will arrange a new meeting."
Government asks farmers to reconsider proposal
Tomar said he was "sad" as the union leaders did not have the farmers' welfare at heart. "We asked them to reconsider our proposal as it is in the interest of farmers and the country," he said, telling farmers the ball lies in their court. Tomar said the agitation's sanctity is lost and some forces want the protests to continue for their own agenda.
Why are the farmers protesting?
For months, farmers have been protesting against the three farm laws passed in September. The protests intensified in November-end as thousands of farmers from several states reached Delhi, camping at the city's borders. Farmers fear that by allowing trade outside APMC mandis, the laws will weaken the mandis and they would be deprived of Minimum Support Prices, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by corporations.
Government had proposed to suspend laws on Wednesday
After the tenth round of talks between the Centre and farmer leaders on Wednesday, the government had proposed to suspend the contentious laws for 18 months. The government had also proposed the formation of a committee on MSPs and the laws. The government said it would implement the committee's recommendations. Continuing to demand a complete rollback of the laws, farmer leaders rejected the proposal.