Government invites farmers for talks; says MSP discussions 'not logical'
The central government on Thursday extended an invitation to farmer unions for talks once again as protests against new agricultural laws have continued for a month.
The invitation comes a day after farmer leaders had said that they are ready to continue talks with the government if they come up with a "concrete proposal."
Previous rounds of talks have failed to resolve the protests.
'Government discussing all issues with open heart, good intention'
Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare Vivek Aggarwal wrote a three-page letter to 40 farmer leaders.
Aggarwal wrote, "I again request you that the government has been discussing all issues with an open heart and good intention to end the protest, and will continue to do so. Kindly suggest a date and time (for the next round of talks)."
Discussions on MSP demand not logical: Government
Aggarwal asked the leaders to provide details of other issues they would like to address during the talks at Delhi's Vigyan Bhawan.
On the demand of Minimum Support Prices (MSPs), Aggarwal said the new laws have no impact on the procurement of farm produce at the fixed rates. Hence, it is not logical to include the demand in further talks, he said.
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, braving a police crackdown.
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.
Farmer leaders demand 'concrete proposal' to resolve protests
Previous five rounds of talks between the government and farmer unions have fallen through.
Aggarwal's letter was in response to a letter from the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, dated December 23, wherein they had asked the government to send a "concrete proposal in writing" instead of repeating "meaningless" proposals to amend the laws.
The farmers stood firm on their demand for a complete rollback.
'Even Mohan Bhagwat would be called terrorist for opposing Modi'
Slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the month-long protests, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said there was "no democracy" in India.
He said those who stand up against the Modi administration are called "terrorists."
Even Mohan Bhagwat—chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party's ideological mentor—would be called a terrorist if he opposed the PM, Gandhi said.
Gandhi's Congress has always been anti-farmer: Agriculture Minister
In response to Gandhi's comments, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, "If Rahul Gandhi was so worried, then he could have done something for farmers when his government was in power. Congress's character has always been anti-farmer."
Tomar said a delegation of 60 farmers from the Kisaan Majdoor Sangh, Baghpat, has given a letter of support for the contentious agricultural laws.