9th round of talks between Centre, farmer unions on Friday
New Delhi, January 14, 2021
The ninth round of talks between the government and protesting farmer unions will take place on Friday as scheduled. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the Centre is looking forward to positive discussions with the farmers.
Tomar said the government is ready to hold discussions with farmer unions leaders with an open mind.
Earlier, talks between the farmer unions and the government did not make much headway in breaking the deadlock.
Also, earlier this week the Supreme Court appointed a four-member expert panel to hear farmers' grievances.
However, a key member of this proposed committee subsequently recused himself. In this backdrop, Tomar said the talks between the government and the farmer union representatives will take place as scheduled on January 15 at Vigyan Bhavan.
Bharti Kisan Union (Lakhowal) general secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal, who is part of the farmers delegation, said the farmer unions will hold discussions with government on Friday as scheduled.
When queried on the main point of discussion during the talks, Lakhowal replied that farmers have two demands, the first is the repeal of the three farm laws, once this is met then the farmers will place their second demand.
However, farmer unions have consistently maintained that they won't appear before the court-appointed panel, as the members favour the laws.
The three controversial laws are the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020.
Earlier today, Bhartiya Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann said he is recusing himself from the four-member committee.
Expressing gratitude to the Supreme Court for nominating him on the panel, Mann said he would give up any position to prevent farmers' interests from being compromised.
In a statement, he said that in view of the prevailing sentiments and apprehensions amongst the farm unions and the public in general, he is ready to sacrifice any position so as to not compromise the interests of Punjab and farmers of the country.
"I am recusing myself from the committee and I will always stand with my farmers and Punjab," Mann added.
On Tuesday, the top court had stayed the implementation of the three farm laws until further orders.
In order to resolve the impasse, the top court also appointed a four-member expert panel, which had been tasked to submit its report before the court within two months.
Apart from Mann, Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra) president Anil Ghanwat, International Food Policy Research Institute's Pramod Kumar Joshi and agricultural economist Ashok Gulati have been appointed by the apex court on the expert panel.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh, have been agitating at various points on Delhi's borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh since the last week of November.