The farmers’ union leaders will, on December 30, meet representatives from the Centre in the next round of negotiations between the two sides on the new agricultural laws as thousands of farmers have been protesting at Delhi borders for more than a month now.
The union leaders have said they will stick to their four specific demands, including chalking out modalities of repealing the three legislation and giving a legal guarantee on the Minimum Support Price (MSP) despite the government having reiterated that it was open to amendments but there was no question of repealing the farm reform laws.
The unions, on December 28, agreed "in-principle" to a government proposal of holding the next round of talks on the new agricultural laws on December 30. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 2 pm at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi.
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In its letter issued on December 29, Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 40 farmers’ unions, said that apart from a discussion on the modalities for the repeal of three farm reform laws and a legal guarantee on MSP, the farmers want the government to discuss amendments to be made and notified in the ‘Commission for the Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2020’ to exclude farmers from its penal provisions.
The fourth point that the farmers want to discuss is to find a procedure for withdrawal of draft ‘Electricity Amendment Bill 2020’ to protect the interests of farmers.
“Our dialogue must follow this agenda in order for a ‘rational solution to the relevant issues’," the letter said.
A day before the meeting, union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Piyush Goyal met home minister Amit Shah in the national capital on December 29. The ministers discussed and finalised the government’s position for their talks with the farmers, news agency PTI reported.
So far, five rounds of formal talks between the Centre and farmers’ leaders have remained inconclusive. The last round was held on December 5 while the sixth round of talks scheduled for December 9 was called off a day after an informal meeting of Shah with some union leaders failed to reach any breakthrough.
For more than a month now, thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh, are camping along Delhi borders seeking repeal of the three agri reform laws. They have threatened to intensify their stir in the coming days if their demands are not fulfilled.
The Centre has projected these farm reform laws as major agriculture reforms aimed at helping farmers and increasing their income, but the protesting unions fear that the new legislation have left them at the mercy of big corporates by weakening the MSP and mandi systems.
Flagging off the 'Kisan Rail' on December 28, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that his government had undertaken historic reforms in the farm sector to boost agriculture and strengthen farmers. Agriculture minister Tomar said he hoped to find an early solution to end the impasse.
Union minister of state for agriculture and farmers welfare Kailash Chaudhary appealed to farmers' organisations opposing the new agricultural laws to have a dialogue with the government in a cordial atmosphere by abandoning the condition of seeking a response in either 'yes' or 'no' during the next round of talks.
The Congress has, in the meantime, demanded legal sanctity to the demands of farmers, including that on ensuring minimum support price.Read more about Moneycontrol's coverage about Farmers' Protest here