Farmers' Protest: Centre offers to suspend farm laws implementation for up to 1.5 years ; next meeting on January 22

In the tenth round of talks, while farmer union leaders remained firm on their demand of repealing the three laws, the government offered to stay the implementation of laws. The farmers will discuss the proposal and take a call.

January 20, 2021 / 08:32 PM IST
Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, minister of railways, Piyush Goyal and minister of state for commerce Som Prakash attended the meeting.

Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, minister of railways, Piyush Goyal and minister of state for commerce Som Prakash attended the meeting.

The tenth round of talks between the Centre and the representatives of farmers' unions concluded on January 20 with the government offering to suspend the implementation of farm laws for one to one-and-half years.

The government agreed to submit an affidavit in the Supreme Court citing suspension of farm laws implementation for a year or more. The top court has already a hold on the implementation of these laws until further orders.

"During discussions, we said that government is ready to put on hold the farm laws for one or one-and-half years. I'm happy that farmer unions have taken this very seriously and said that they would consider it tomorrow and convey their decision on January 22" Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar was quoted by news agency ANI after the meeting.

Tomar, one of the three union ministers representing the government during the negotiations, said that he was hopeful of finding a resolution in the next round of talks.  Minister of railways, Piyush Goyal and minister of state for Commerce Som Prakash, apart from agriculture minister Tomar, represented the government side, apart from minister Tomar.

The Unions said they will decide on the government's proposal on January 21 before taking a final call. They will convey their decision to the government in the next meeting, they said.


"The government said that it will submit an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that it can suspend the implementation of farm laws for a year or two. We will discuss this and give our decision," Hannah Mollah, All India Kisan Mahasabha general secretary and CPI (M) leader  said after the meeting.

Follow our LIVE BLOG here on updates on Farmers' Protest 

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.

The meeting on January 20 that was scheduled for 2 pm at Vigyan Bhawan, began after a delay of 50 minutes.

In the first half of the meeting, the farm leaders raised the issue of NIA notices being issued to various union leaders, sources said. The government sought the list of union leaders who have been served noticed by the national investigation agency (NIA), they said. The issue of arrest of agitating farmers in Himachal Pradesh was also raised in the meeting accusing the government of trying to intimidate the protestors.

The government assured the farmers that no innocents will be punished by the BJP government.

The farmers also reportedly displayed placards in Punjabi translating to “same ministers, same tone and same rhetoric, will there be another meeting?” during the meeting. The meeting stopped for lunch an hour after discussions.

The meeting resumed after a long lunch break at around 5: 30 pm. During the lunch break the government kept repeating that it won’t repeal the laws and that the unions can approach the Supreme Court for the repeal of the laws.

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

The farmers are preparing for their proposed tractor rally on Republic Day, even as the official's permission from Delhi police is yet to be worked out. 

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court asked Centre to withdraw the plea against the proposed tractor rally. The Court also took a "serious objection" to farmers' criticism of the committee it formed to resolve impasse over farm laws. It also warned the farmers against casting aspersions on the Court.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan and senior advocate Dushyant Dave submitted before the top court that the farmers' Unions are totally convinced that the farm laws need to be repealed and therefore they will not appear before the SC-appointed committee  to discuss amendments

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 where ever 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

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also tweeted against the farm laws on January 20.

After farmers refused to appear before the SC-appointed panel, Bhupinder Singh Mann, the national president of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), one of the four members, recused himself from the committee. Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra) president Anil Ghanwat, International Food Policy Research Institute's Pramod Kumar Joshi, and agriculture economist Ashok Gulati are on the panel, apart from Mann.

Also read | Farm laws will help increase the income of farmers: Amit Shah

The two sides had arrived at some common ground in the sixth round of talks held on December 30 with the government agreeing on two of the four demands of farmers – removing stubble burning penalty on farmers and withdrawing provisions in the draft Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020, which intend to change the mode of subsidy payment to farmers.
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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