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Farmers' protest | 11th round of talks inconclusive; suspension is the last offer, says Centre

While the government said it had nothing better to offer than staying the implementation of farm laws, farmer union leaders were adamant on their demand of the complete repeal of agri reforms. No dates for a new meeting have been announced.

January 22, 2021 / 06:47 PM IST
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at three Delhi border points.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at three Delhi border points.


The eleventh round of talks between the Centre and farmer union leaders ended without any conclusion on January 22, a day after protesting farmers rejected the government's proposal to suspend the implementation of farm laws for 18 months.

While the government said it had nothing better to offer than staying the implementation of farm laws, farmer union leaders were adamant on their demand of repeal of laws.

"Government is ready to talk on its suspension proposal," Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said after the meeting concluded. "We gave them the best proposal. It's up to them now," he added.

No new date of the next meeting was announced, first time during the series of negotiations, hinting at a possible deadlock that the talks have hit once again.

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The farmers' unions had on January 21 rejected the government's proposal and reiterated nothing less than the repeal of the three farm laws is acceptable to the farmers who have been protesting at various Delhi border points for about two months now.

In the meeting that began at 1 pm, one hour late from the scheduled time, farm leaders were firm on their demand of the complete repeal of the laws. The government, sources said, expressed disappointment on unions' decision to reject the previous offer.

Tomar, Minister of Railways, Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Prakash have been representing the government side during the series of meetings held so far. Tomar had a meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah on January 21.

"Before the lunch break, farmer leaders reiterated their demand for the repeal of the farm laws. The government said they were ready for amendments. The minister asked us to consider government's proposal and we asked him to consider ours. After that the minister left the meeting," Shiv Kumar Kakka, farmers' union leader said.

After the ministers left, Union Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Aggarwal kept talking to the farmers till the meeting ended without any step forward.

Thousands of farmers, primarily from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at several Delhi border points for nearly two months, demanding the repeal of the laws, and a legal guarantee on minimum support prices (MSP) for their crops.

In the tenth round of talks between the two sides on January 20, the government offered a proposal to suspend the implementation of recently passed agri reforms for 18 months.

The farmers said their  plan to carry out a parade on the outer ring road of Delhi on Republic Day despite the Delhi Police's request to not conduct the parade stands.

The top court had on January 12 ordered a stay on the implementation of the three farm laws until further orders besides setting up a committee of experts that will talk to both sides and suggest changes whereever needed in the enactments as opposed by the farmers. The farmers refused to appear before the committee. They alleged that all the four members of the SC-appointed committee were pro-laws

Read | Farm bills have potential to represent a significant step forward for agricultural reforms in India: IMF

The SC-appointed committee began consultations and held its first meeting with ten farmer unions from eight states on January 21.





Also read | Farm laws will help increase the income of farmers: Amit Shah
Gulam Jeelani is a journalist with over 11 years of reporting experience. Based in New Delhi, he covers politics and governance for Moneycontrol.

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