Farm Law Talks: Farmers Turn Down Centre's Offer to 'Suspend' Laws for a While or Amend Them

The 10th round ended without resolution, with farmer leaders and the Centre only agreeing on the next date for meetings.

New Delhi: The 10th round of talks between protesting farmers’ union leaders and the Centre ended with farmers sticking to their demand for a complete repeal of the three contentious laws. Several news outlets and the news agency PTI have reported that farmers have turned down offers by the Centre to amend the three laws or suspend them for a year or two.

Farmers’ leaders said that the Centre was avoiding a real discussion on the legal guarantee for Minimum Support Price (MSP).

Farmer leaders said there was no breakthrough in the first two sessions as both sides were stuck on their stated positions and there was little hope of any point of agreement other than the the date for the 11th round.

The government had reportedly proposed to keep the three farm laws suspended for a fixed time period of one year or so and form a committee comprising union leaders and government representatives.

Central ministers reportedly proposed that the laws remain suspended till the committee submits its report and urged farmer unions to suspend their agitation.

The proposal, however, did not find any support from farmers’ leaders.

The laws have already been stayed till further orders by the Supreme Court, which has formed a controversial committee to resolve the deadlock. The panel, which had its first meeting on Tuesday, has been asked to give its report in two months.

‘No progress’

During the lunch break, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) general secretary Yudhvir Singh told PTI, “The stalemate is continuing over the three laws and I don’t think any solution will emerge from today’s meeting. Both sides are adamant on their position.”

He said the government is insisting on first discussing the three laws and wants to take up the MSP (Minimum Support Price) matter later.

“We will insist on a discussion on MSP after the tea break and also try to seek the next date for meeting before January 26,” Singh said.

Union leader Rakesh Tikait said, “The government is not ready to repeal the three laws and farmers are not ready for amendments. The government doesn’t want to discuss MSP.”

“No solution will emerge from today’s meeting. We will meet again on the next date,” he said.

Police at Singhu border on January 20, 2021. Photo: PTI

Farmer leaders also raised the issue of National Investigation Agency serving notices to some farmers to harass those supporting the agitation. The Centre’s representatives said they will look into the matter.

The meeting began at around 2.45 pm with the three ministers greeting farmer leaders on the occasion of Gurupurab. The meeting resumed at around 5.15 pm after a lunch break, but the two sides took another break at around 6 pm.

During the second break, farmer leader Kavitha Kuruganti said the meeting began with the NIA issue, followed by unions’ demand for a repeal of the laws.

Also read: As Farm Law Protests Continue, NIA Sees ‘Anti-National’ Plot, Summons Activists

The farmer leaders presented multiple parliament replies given by the agriculture minister where he had stated that agriculture is a state subject, while one reply mentioned even agri-marketing as a state subject.

She said the discussion did not appear to be progressing anywhere.

“The government offered to carry out some amendments, but farmer leaders maintained they do not want anything less than a complete repeal of the laws,” Tikait said.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has also said it wants a repeal of the laws, but wants to discuss government’s suspension proposal tomorrow in detail and get back to the government by day after tomorrow.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railways, Commerce and Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, who is an MP from Punjab, are holding the talks with the representatives of around 40 farmer unions at the Vigyan Bhawan here.

Before the meeting, the three ministers also met senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

The tenth round of talks was initially scheduled on January 19, but were pushed to Wednesday.

In the last round of talks, the government had asked protesting farmers to prepare a concrete proposal about their objections and suggestions on the three farm laws for further discussion at their next meeting to end the long-running protest. But, unions stuck to their main demand of a complete repeal of the three Acts.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now against the three laws.

(With PTI inputs)