Farmer-government talks remain inconclusive; protesters threaten Republic Day rally
The seventh round of talks between the government and farmers to resolve protests against the new agricultural laws remained inconclusive. Monday's talks were aimed to address the farmers' demands for the repeal of the contentious laws and a legal guarantee on Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for their produce. The government refused to entertain the demand to repeal the laws, pushing for legal amendments instead.
Next round of talks on January 8
The seventh round of talks went on for nearly four hours. Both the farmers and the government remained firm on their stance on the repeal of the laws and the talks remained inconclusive. The next round of talks has been scheduled for January 8. The farmers have threatened to stage a rally on Republic Day (January 26) if their demands are not met.
Meeting started with two-minute silence for protesters who died
The meeting was started with a two-minute silence for the protesting farmers who died while camping on Delhi's borders. During Monday's talks, the farmers were seen huddling together for lunch, unlike the last time, when they shared lunch with the three Union Ministers representing the government: Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and his junior minister Som Parkash.
Hope next meeting will have meaningful discussion, says Agriculture Minister
After the meeting, Tomar told reporters, "Looking at today's discussion, I hope that we will have a meaningful discussion during our next meeting and we will come to a conclusion." Tomar added, "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."
'Won't go home until laws are repealed'
However, All India Kisan Sabha General Secretary Hannan Mollah said, "The government is under tremendous pressure. We all said that (the repeal of the laws) is our demand. We do not want a discussion on any other topic." Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait added, "Kaanon wapasi nahi, to ghar wapasi nahi (We will not go home until the laws are withdrawn)."
During last round, both sides reached consensus on two topics
During the last round of talks on December 30, the two sides had reached consensus on the withdrawal of the Electricity Amendment Bill and the penal provisions for stubble burning in the Air Quality Commission Ordinance. Meanwhile, in Punjab, Reliance Jio went to court on Monday, seeking the government's intervention in the destruction of hundreds of cellphone towers by protesting farmers.
Why are the farmers protesting?
For months, farmers have protested 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 (MSPs), leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by corporations.