Stalemate over withdrawal of farm laws continues between govt, farmers
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal and Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Som Parkash addressing a press conference after holding the seventh round of talks with agitating farmers at Vigyan Bhavan, in New Delhi on January 4, 2021. Bidesh Manna/IANS

Stalemate over withdrawal of farm laws continues between govt, farmers

New Delhi, January 4, 2021

The seventh round of meeting of the farmers' organisation with the government at Vigyan Bhawan here on Monday remained inconclusive as the farmers were firm on their demand for the withdrawal of the three new Central farm laws.

Two issues were to be discussed in the meeting but due to the stalemate over the withdrawal of the farm laws, the demand for legal guarantee on MSP couldn't be discussed. Now, the discussion over the MSP will be held on January 8.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said in the meeting that the farm laws are beneficial for the farmers across the country and, therefore, a decision will be taken after consulting farmers of all the states.

Taking up the issue of the farmers who lost their lives during the protest, representatives of 40 farmers' organisation proposed to start the meeting by offering condolences to them. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal and Union Minister of State Som Prakash along with the farmers' leaders offered condolences by observing silence for two minutes.

Sources said that the three ministers asked the farmers' leaders to start the discussion on the three laws and discuss the issue related to MSP after that as these were two issues to be discussed today. Farmers' leaders demanded the withdrawal of the three laws to which Tomar said that these laws have been enacted after much deliberation. They will surely benefit from them.

"As farmers of many states have supported the laws so we can't take any decision without listening to them," Tomar said.

Tomar also said that they could discuss each clause of the new laws and the government would consider amendments on the points on which the farmers had objections.

On this, the farmers' leaders refused to accept any amendments and unanimously demanded withdrawal of the three laws. The demand for withdrawal of the laws was put down by the Union Ministers.

After discussion of around one and a half hours, the meeting was adjourned for lunch. Last time, the ministers and the farmers' leaders had lunch together at a "langar" but this time they had it separately.

The farmers remained adamant on their demand of withdrawal of the three laws after lunch also. They said that they won't end the protest on the borders of the national capital till the laws are withdrawn.

Shivkumar Sharma "Kakka", a farmers' leader who was in the meeting, told IANS, "Legal guarantee of the MSP couldn't be discussed today as the talks revolved around withdrawal of the laws. The ministers said that it takes around 20 years to bring a law to which all the farmers' leaders said that the law should be beneficial for the public, too. When we raised the issue of MSP after the lunch, the ministers said that it is a complicated matter so it will be better if both the parties can do a thorough preparation on it and discuss it in next meeting."

Kakka said the farmers are ready to end the protest if the government is ready to repeal the laws. "We will continue to protest for years to get these laws rolled back," he added.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (Uttar Pradesh) President Rakesh Tikait said, "It is the tension of the government to end the protest not ours. Today's meeting was inconclusive. Everything depends on government's stand. Farmers don't come to Delhi again and again. Now that they have come here, they don't want to go back without any result."

After the meeting, the government issued a statement in which it mentioned that the Agriculture Minister said in the meeting that they are ready to consider amendments to the new farm laws.

"We will discuss pointwise on the farm laws, and on whichever laws you have objections to we are ready to consider amendments," said Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

The Agriculture Minister said the government is ready to resolve the impasse and is discussing all the issues with an open mind. He said that both the sides should move forward and the government will discuss these laws with other farmers unions also.

Yudhvir Singh of the Bhartiya Kisan Union said the, "Government wants to take us towards amendments but we will not accept this proposal. The minister wanted us to discuss the laws point-wise. We rejected it and said that there is no point in discussing the laws because we want their complete rollback."

Railways and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal and Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Som Parkash were also present at the meeting, as was Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal.

Krantikari Kisan Union President (Punjab) Darshan Pal, Bharatiya Kisan Union's Jagjeet Singh Dalewal and Balbir Singh Rajewal, Jamhuri Kishan Sabha Punjab General Secretary Kulwant Singh, and Bharatiya Kisan Union (Uttar Pradesh) President Rakesh Tikait are among the 41 farm union leaders who participated in the meeting.

IANS

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