Farmers in Haryana and Punjab have started gathering on the Delhi’s border along Haryana for the ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest against the three new farm bill passed in September. Farmers will be marching to Delhi on November 26-27 to pressure Central government to scrap the three farm laws. Farmers are adamant to march to the national capital despite Delhi government refusing permission to stage rally citing coronavirus restrictions. (Image: Twitter @ANI)
The Centre’s crucial meeting with representatives of protesting farm unions concluded at New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan on December 1 without any breakthrough.
Another round of meeting will, however, be held on December 3, the government said, as thousands of farmers continued their protest against the recently passed farm laws on the city outskirts.
“The meeting was good, and we have decided that the talks will be held on December 3. We wanted a small group to be constituted, but farmers' leaders wanted that the talks should be held with everyone, we do not have problem with it,” Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who was one of the Centre’s representatives in the meeting, told news agency ANI.
Apart from Tomar, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and Union Minister of State for Commerce Som Prakash, who is an MP from Punjab, attended the meeting that lasted nearly four hours.
Representatives from 32 farm unions from Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh unions were invited for the talks.
The Centre said, in the meeting, that there was "no question" of rolling back the contentious farm laws, while proposing to constitute a committee to discuss them further, according to reports.
"You give names of 4-5 people from your organizations and constitute a committee in which there'll be representatives from the government as well as agricultural experts to discuss new agricultural laws," the government told the farmers, according to ANI.
The government also gave a detailed presentation to the farmers' leaders on Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act.
“We appeal to the farmers to suspend the protests and come for the talks. However, this decision depends on farmers' unions and farmers,” Tomar told reporters after the meeting.
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The farmers' union leaders have turned down the Centre's pitch for constituting a committee and have stuck to their demand of withdrawal of the farm laws, according to news channel NDTV.
The talks were initially scheduled for December 3, but Union Minister Tomar invited farmer leaders today. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met Home Minister Amit Shah and Narendra Singh Tomar at BJP chief JP Nadda’s house before earlier in the day.
Thousands of farmers stayed put at various Delhi border points for the sixth consecutive day on December 1, protesting against the new farm laws, which, they fear, will dismantle the MSP system and corporatise farming.Follow our LIVE blog here.
Though the farmers have expressed objection to all the three farm laws, there main problem, essentially, is about the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act or the FPTC Act and its provisions that, they fear, will weaken the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis. The farmers are also unhappy with the removal of guaranteed MSP, which, they say, will leave them at the mercy of big corporations.
The government, however, says the new laws give farmers options to get higher prices for their crops and the MSP regime will continue.
The government has come in for criticism over its handling of the protest over the last few days as the farmers who had blocked the roads on their way to the capital were at times roughly handled by the police, leading to charges of heavy-handedness by farmers unions and opposition parties.