Farmers' meeting with government remains inconclusive; next round on Thursday
On Tuesday, a three-member team of Union Ministers started talks with 35 representatives of farmers protesting against the central government's new agricultural laws.
The talks, originally scheduled to be held on Thursday, were advanced even as the farmers refused to meet the government's conditions.
However, the discussion, that was expected to resolve the intense protests by farmers, remained inconclusive.
Here are more details.
Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Som Prakash, Piyush Goyal leading talks
Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Som Prakash, and Piyush Goyal are holding talks with the farmers' leaders at the Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi.
Among the group of 36 farmer representatives, 32 reportedly belong to farmers from Punjab, two from Haryana, and one from Uttar Pradesh.
Swaraj India founder Yogendra Yadav from AIKSCC withdrew from negotiations after the government objected to having activists in attendance.
Government suggests forming committee to discuss farm laws
According to ANI, the government said during the meeting, "You give names of four-five people from your organizations and constitute a committee in which there will be representatives from government and agricultural experts to discuss new agricultural laws."
After the meeting concluded, BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) President Joginder Singh Ugrahan said the talks remained inconclusive. The next round of talks is scheduled for Thursday.
What are the concerns with the new laws?
The government has repeatedly said that the laws are designed to free farmers from the clutches of middlemen.
However, farmers fear that they will be deprived of guaranteed minimum prices after Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) mandis weaken with the implementation of the new laws.
They are concerned that this would leave them vulnerable to exploitation by big corporations.
Farmers demand repeal of contentious laws
The farmers' groups demand that the new laws be repealed. If the demand isn't met, they say they will continue their protest, which has been planned for two months.
Some farmers have also sought written assurance on the government's Minimum Support Price (MSP) guarantee.
The farmers said on Sunday that they will block five entry points to Delhi: Sonipat, Rohtak, Jaipur, Ghaziabad-Hapur, and Mathura.
Government unlikely to repeal laws
However, sources told NDTV that the government is unlikely to repeal the laws. They said the government will simply reiterate assurances on MSP during the talks.
This is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's position on the matter. The PM has repeatedly blamed misinformation for the protests.
On Sunday, he said the laws have given farmers "more opportunities and rights."
This was the third round of talks between farmers, government
Tuesday's talks were the third round of negotiations between the farmers and the government over the contentious laws in the last few months.
The first round, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Aggarwal, was held in mid-October, while the second round, co-chaired by Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, was held earlier this month.