The government will soon call farmers’ leaders for the next round of talks to end the deadlock over the farm laws, Union minister Kailash Choudhary said on Sunday as agitators intensified their protest against the central legislation with road blockades and a plan for a one-day hunger strike on Monday. There have been five rounds of talks between the Centre and representatives of 40 farmers’ unions so far and they have remained inconclusive.
The sixth round was cancelled after farmers’ leaders rejected the government’s draft proposal to amend certain provisions of the farm laws and declined to participate in the meeting. The government has made it clear that it is ready for discussion anytime. But the farmer unions have said they would come for talks only if the laws are repealed.
“The meeting will be called soon. We are ready for discussion. But the date has not been finalised,” Chaudhary, the minister of state for agriculture, told PTI. “We have full confidence. In the next meeting, the issue will be resolved,” he said and added that the government will find “some solution” to end the impasse.
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Chaudhary said Union home minister Amit Shah and Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who is leading negotiations with protesting farmers’ unions to break the deadlock over the farm laws, are holding discussions on the issue. Tomar had met Shah earlier in the day.
Farmers, especially from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at Delhi borders against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. The central government has said that the three farm laws will bring in major reforms in the agriculture sector, will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that they will pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system and do away with the mandis or agricultural markets, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.
Leaders of farmers’ unions also said on Sunday that protests will be held in all district headquarters to press their demand for the repeal of the new farm laws even as more protesters headed for Delhi with a large group blocking the key Delhi-Jaipur national highway when it was stopped by police on Haryana-Rajasthan border.
Farmers’ leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni said while addressing a press conference at the Singhu border that they will observe the hunger strike at their respective places between 8am to 5pm on Monday. “Also, dharnas will be staged at all district headquarters across the country. The protest will go on as usual,” he told reporters.
“There are groups that are ending protest and saying they are in favour of laws passed by the government. We want to clarify that they are not associated with us. They have been hand-in-glove with the government, they conspired to sabotage our protest. The government is hatching a conspiracy to derail the ongoing farmers’ protest,” Chaduni said, according to PTI.
Also read: The politics of farm protests | HT Editorial
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said he too will observe a day-long fast on Monday and appealed to the central government “to shun ego and scrap the legislation”.
Earlier in the day, Union agriculture minister Tomar accused opposition parties of running a propaganda against the new farm laws and said these legislations “may cause difficulty for some in the short term” but will help farmers in the long run. Tomar made the comments while addressing a delegation of more than 100 farmers from Uttarakhand who extended their support to the laws.