Talks between Home Minister Amit Shah and a select group of farmers’ representatives failed to make any breakthrough on Tuesday night with the union leaders insisting on their demand for repeal of three new laws and rejecting the government’s proposal for amendments.
Some leaders also threatened that they will boycott the scheduled sixth round of talks with the government on Wednesday at Vigyan Bhawan here, while others said their next course of action will depend on what amendments the government assures in writing, which they claimed was promised by Shah in today’s meeting.
Another leader said, “There is no chance of tomorrow’s meeting. Whatever they have decided to give in writing we won’t accept those amendments as we want complete repeal of the laws. There is no question of meeting again.” However, a few leaders who attended the meeting with Shah appeared to be in favour of necessary amendments and assurances on the minimum support price (MSP) regime and the mandi system rather than a complete repeal of the laws enacted in September, indicating some kind of divisions among the unions.
After the meeting which ended around midnight, All India Kisan Sabha general secretary and CPI(M) leader Hannan Mollah said, “The home minister has made it clear that the government will not repeal the laws. Shah-ji said the government will give tomorrow in writing the amendments which the government is keen to. We will decide about attending the meeting after discussing the written amendments with all 40 farmer unions.” At the same time, he also added, “We don’t want amendments, we want repeal of laws. There is no middle path. We will not attend tomorrow’s meeting.”
Mollah said a final decision on attending the sixth round of talks will be taken at a meeting of union leaders Wednesday noon at Singhu border, where thousands of farmers have been camping for the last 12 days demanding the repeal of the laws.
After the fifth round of talks on Saturday, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar had said that the next meeting had been scheduled for 11 am on December 9.
Tomar, Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Som Parkash, who have been leading the government’s consultations with the agitating farmers, were present at the meeting Shah had with the 13 farmer leaders at National Agricultural Science Complex, Pusa.
Farmer leaders have claimed that the laws will benefit corporates and end the mandi system and the minimum support price (MSP) regime.
The government has maintained that it is committed to the welfare of farmers and have presented these laws as major reforms for their benefits.