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11th round of talks between farmers, govt break down, no date fixed for next meeting: 10 key developments | India News


NEW DELHI: The 11th round of negotiations between the protesting farmers and the government on Friday broke down with both the sides not ready to climb down from their respective positions. While the farmers remained adamant on repeal of the three agri laws, the government asked them to consider their offer of suspending the implementation of the Acts up one-and-a-half years. For the first time, no date has been fixed for the next round of talks.
Here are the key developments of the day:
1. The government’s negotiations with protesting farm unions hit a roadblock as the farmer leaders stuck to their demands for a complete repeal of three farm laws they find pro-corporate and a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP), even as the centre asked them to reconsider its proposal for putting the Acts on hold for 12-18 months. Unlike the last 10 rounds of talks, the 11th round could not even reach a decision on the next date for the meeting as the government also hardened its position saying it is ready to meet again once the unions agree to discuss the suspension proposal. This followed a big climbdown made by the centre during the last round when they offered to suspend the laws and form a joint committee to find solutions.
2. The farmer leaders said they will intensify their agitation now and alleged that the government’s approach was not right during the meeting. They also said their tractor rally will go ahead as per the plans on January 26 and unions have told the police that it is the government’s responsibility to maintain peace. While the meeting lasted for almost five hours, the two sides sat face to face for less than 30 minutes. In the very beginning, the farmer leaders informed the government that they have decided to reject the proposal made by the government in the last round of talks on Wednesday. The three central ministers, including agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, urged the union representatives to reconsider their stand, after which the two sides went for a lunch break.
3. The break, during which the farmer leaders had their langar (community kitchen) food, lasted for more than three hours and also saw the 41 farmer leaders holding consultations among themselves, at times in smaller groups, while the three central ministers waited in a separate room at Vigyan Bhawan. After the meeting, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) leader Joginder Singh Ugrahan said the discussions have broken down as the unions rejected the government’s proposal. Another farmer leader Rakesh Tikait said the ministers said the suspension period can be increased to up to 2 years, but the unions remained firm on their demand for a complete repeal and a legal guarantee for MSP mechanism for procurement of crops.
4. The ministers told the unions that they have been given all possible options and they must discuss internally the proposal of suspending the laws. Tomar told the farmer leaders that the government would be ready for another meeting if farmers want to discuss the proposal, sources said. The minister also thanked unions for their cooperation and said while there were no problems with the laws, the government offered to suspend them as respect for the protesting farmers. Coming out of the meeting venue, farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka said there was no headway in the discussions and the government asked unions to deliberate on its proposal again.
5. BKU‘s Tikait said: “We conveyed our position clearly to the government that we want a repeal of the laws and not a suspension. The ministers asked us to reconsider our decision.” Some leaders expressed apprehensions that the movement will lose its momentum once the farmers go away from Delhi borders. Harpal Singh, President of Bhartiya Kisan Union – Asli Arajnaitik (Real Apolitical), said, “Even if we accept the government’s offer, our fellow brothers sitting at Delhi borders will not accept anything other than a repeal of the laws. They will not spare us. What achievement will we show to them?” He also questioned the government’s credibility, alleging it was difficult to believe that they will keep their word on putting the laws on hold for 18 months. “We will die here but we will not return without getting the laws repealed,” Singh said.
6. Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said some “forces” definitely want protests to continue for their own personal and political motives and no resolution is possible when the sanctity of agitation is lost. The minister said the farmer unions have been asked to revert till Saturday if they agree to the government’s proposal for putting the laws on hold and forming a joint committee to reach a solution, after which the talks can continue. “We also told farmers to give their own proposal, other than the repeal of Acts, if they have got anything better than our offer,” Tomar told reporters after the 11th round of talks. Asked whether he expects the farmers to agree to the government offer, he said, “I don’t want to speculate, but we are hopeful that farmer unions will consider our proposal positively.”
7. Some BJP leaders feel the “obdurate” stand of the protesting farmers makes it clear that they may be playing into the hands of vested interests. Several party leaders said that protesting farmers’ “all-or-nothing” approach and their warning to further intensify the agitation may actually help the government in the battle of perceptions, especially when it has become clear that the centre made a big climbdown by offering to put the laws on hold for up to two years and when the Supreme Court has also formed a panel to resolve the crisis. A party leader said it would have been better if the farmer unions had agreed to call off their stir and allowed a normal dialogue around the three laws to progress, as continuing agitation on Delhi borders has a nationwide resonance.
8. Protesting farmer leaders said their proposed January 26 tractor rally will take place on Delhi’s busy Outer Ring Road as decided earlier, after their 11th round of talks with the government ended in a deadlock. Coming out of the meeting, farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said it is for the government to ensure that the rally is peaceful. “Tractor march on January 26 will take place as decided by us on Outer Ring Road. We have informed the police that it is for the government to ensure that it should be peaceful,” Rajewal said. After holding rehearsals and preparations for the past few days, several batches of farmers from Punjab and Haryana will set out on Saturday to participate in the proposed tractor parade.
9. NCP president Sharad Pawar said he will take part in a protest planned in Mumbai to express support for farmers agitating against the new agri- marketing laws enacted by the Narendra Modi government. Talking to reporters in Kolhapur, around 375km from here, the former Union agriculture minister noted that the agitating farmers have rejected the centre’s offer to suspend the new laws for 18 months. “The government proposed suspending the laws for 18 months. But the farmers have rejected it. They (farmers) have asked the government to repeal the laws and then sit for discussion. The protesting farmers well-wishers from Maharashtra met me, met the chief minister. They told us they will on January 24 or January 25 unite all those who are supporting the agitating farmers. They invited us for the same. We said okay we will come,” Pawar said. Meanwhile, Nashik farmers affiliated to the All India Kisan Sabha and some other outfits will organise a protest rally in Mumbai on the eve of Republic Day against the centre’s farm laws. The farmers will start a march on January 23 and hold the rally on January 25 at Azad Maidan in the southern part of the metropolis, after which a memorandum on demands pertaining to the new farm laws will handed over to Maharashtra governor BS Koshyari, said an AIKS statement.
10. Senior BJP leader Uma Bharti said the centre and protesting farmers should ensure that stubbornness and ego do not come in the way of resolving differences over the new agri-marketing laws. The former Union minister said it is after a gap of more than 30 years that farmers have gathered near Delhi to push for their demands. It is an opportunity for both the government and farmers. Stubbornness and ego from both sides should not come in the way (of finding a solution to impasse over new laws), she told reporters at her bungalow here. The former Madhya Pradesh chief minister said farmers came together under the leadership of farm leaders Mahendra Singh Tikait and Sharad Joshi around 30 years ago. In 1988, Tikait had mobilised a large number of farmers of Uttar Pradesh and reached Delhi to seek redressal of their grievances related to agrarian distress and price of their produce, among others. But differences between them (farmers) surfaced after some time then, said Bharti. Gujarat has always been a state of farmers. Farming was the foundation of Gujarats economy, industries came later (there), said. Thus, a big opportunity has come in the way of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi as well as farmers (to resolve differences over the new laws), the BJP leader said.
(With agency inputs)



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