New Delhi: The seventh round of talks between farmers’ representatives and the government concluded on Monday without any agreement with both sides deciding to meet again for the next round on January 8.
The meeting began at 1400 hrs with Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Piyush Goyal and Som Prakash and the farmers’ representatives observing two minutes silence as a mark of respect for those farmers who had lost their live during the past 40 days of the agitation. There are no official data available on how many farmers had passed away since the agitation began.
The seventh round of negotiations, the first in the new year, seemed doomed from the beginning with farmers sticking to their demand of repeal of the three farm laws and a legal guarantee on Minimum Support Price (MSP) while the government has made its intentions clear that their demand of repeal of the three laws would not be possible.
Both sides had reached an agreement at the sixth round of talks on December 30 on two demands of the striking farmers including no punishment for stubble burning and continuation of the electricity subsidy given to farmers by states for irrigation.
The two sides had welcomed the agreement but farmers maintained they would not take back their agitation unless the government withdraws the three laws which they consider hostile. However, the government says It is not possible to take back the laws and that they (the laws) are in favour of farmers and part of the agriculture reforms.
Emerging from the meeting Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the talks were supposed to be held on two points. He said no decision was taken and both sides had agreed to meet again on January 8. ‘The meeting was held in an amicable and good atmosphere but no decision was taken and they, therefore, agreed to meet on January 8.’
He hoped that the way talks were held, there could be some agreement at the next meeting.
Asked if the farmers had shown faith in government and whether they felt the government was sincere the Minister said ‘’had there been no faith in government, they would not have agreed to come for talks on January 8. That date has been decided only when they have faith in the government. Had that not been decided, that means farmers have faith in government,’’ he added.
Mr Tomar said the laws had been made keeping in view the interests of the farmers of the entire country. The government has to take decisions keeping in mind the interest crores of farmers in the entire country. ‘The government is concerned about farmers and ready to discuss issues keeping in mind their interests.’
‘’I hope we will have a solution soon,’’ the Minister asserted.
Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Mahendra Singh Tikait said everything now depended on Government and if the government wanted there would be a solution. Till then the agitation would continue.
‘Kanoon wapsi nahi to ghar wapsi nahi (No taking back of the laws and no going back home)’’ he said while asserting that they would continue the agitation until the government withdrew the laws.
“Our demand is repeal of the laws. We will not agree to any alternatives like setting up of a committee. We want quick withdrawal of these laws and it can be done through Ordinance when Parliament is not in session. We don’t want clause by clause discussions on three farm laws. We have already rejected any alternative to repeal.’
The farmers’ representatives accused the government of ‘dragging’ the negotiations and trying to tire out the farmers. They (the government) had thought that perhaps by dragging on, the farmers would be fatigued and leave. But the farmers are firm on their demand, they said. ‘On January 8 also, we will demand discussions on repeal of the three laws,’ the farmers’ representatives said.