Farmers-Centre talks: No breakthrough; next meet on December 9

By: |
December 6, 2020 6:45 AM

According to sources, the government offered to make changes in the laws via executive orders now, and promised that these would be tabled in Parliament in the next session for ratification.

On its part, the government put on the table certain significant amendments to the laws to address the farmers’ concerns, but was firm on its stance that the laws won’t be scrapped.On its part, the government put on the table certain significant amendments to the laws to address the farmers’ concerns, but was firm on its stance that the laws won’t be scrapped.

There is no end in sight for the ongoing farmers’ stir against the three recently enacted agriculture laws even after the fifth round of talks with the government on Saturday, with the farmer unions stubbornly maintaining that nothing less than repealing of these laws would be acceptable to them. On its part, the government put on the table certain significant amendments to the laws to address the farmers’ concerns, but was firm on its stance that the laws won’t be scrapped.

While the next round of talks are to be held on Wednesday, the farmer unions will orgnanise a Bharat Bandh on Tuesday to press their case. Also, to mark their protest, they have called for burning of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effigies throughout the country on Sunday.

According to sources, the government offered to make changes in the laws via executive orders now, and promised that these would be tabled in Parliament in the next session for ratification.

The changes offered include empanelment of traders with Centre’s agency to buy from outside mandis, removal of the current clause for dispute resolution to allow farmers to move court , easing of penalty on and decriminalisation of stubble burning.

While Saturday’s meeting of farmer unions with agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar and food minister Piyush Goyal went on for over four hours, the talks had reached a virtual deadlock at the start of the meeting itself, with the farmers making it clear that they won’t accept any formula other than repeal of the laws.

Earlier in the day, Modi had a meeting with senior ministers to finalise the government’s stand.

The fifth round of meetings, in fact, saw a hardening of stand by farmers, as at one point they sat in ‘silent protest’ for 30 minutes, demanding to know the government’s position on their main demand for laws’ rollback, after which Tomar huddled with officials and announced that the government would come out with ‘concrete proposals’ in the next meeting and asked for suggestions from the unions.

There are also indications that talks could happen even earlier than Wednesday if the government is able to firm up its offer so that the Bharat bandh called by farmers on December 8 could be averted, sources said.

Breifing media after the meeting, Tomar said: “The MSP will remain there and there is no need for anyone to fear (that it will go). The Prime Minister and I have said this on the floor of Parliament. The Centre will also do whatever required work to strengthen APMC mandis and the fear that these will close down is unfounded. We do not want to interfere in APMC mandis nor the laws have any such objective. We wanted some more specific suggestions from farmers leaders so that we could have some proposals in the next meeting. I am still hopeful that they will send us such suggestions.”

The protests, already over ten days long, are spearheaded by farmers from Punjab who fear that APMC mandis and the MSP system, of which they are biggest beneficiaries would wither away as a result of the reformist laws. Sources form farmer groups told FE that farmers from other parts of the country, including Uttarakhand and Rajasthan are reaching the borders of the national capital in large numbers to join the protests.

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