Govt calls farmers for talks on Wed, PM says acts will better their lives

Topics Centre | Narendra Modi | Farm Bills

Farmers during a protest at Singhu border near New Delhi Photo: Reuters
The Centre today once again invited 40 farmer unions for the next round of talks on December 30 on all ‘relevant issues’ to break the current impasse, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued his offensive in support of the acts saying that the reforms are meant to better their lives.

Responding to the letter sent by the protesting farmers unions last week expressing their willingness to hold talks on the ways to repeal the three agriculture acts, the Centre today said that just like the protesting farmers, it is also committed to finding a logical solution on all relevant issues with a clear intention and an open mind.

The protesting farmers union had last week proposed to the Government to hold the talks on Tuesday, December 29, on an agenda that included modalities for the repeal of the three laws enacted in September, a legal gurantee for MSP and concrete steps on draft electricity act and NCR-pollution ordinance.

The talks will now is expected to be held on December 30 in Vigyan Bhawan at 2 PM.
Taking note of the unions' offer to resume talks, Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Aggarwal said that a detailed discussion will take place on three farm laws, MSP procurement system as well as Electricity Amendment bill and ordinance to tackle air pollution in and around Delhi/NCR.

However, the government letter did not make any specific reference to one key condition proposed by the unions seeking talks on modalities for the repeal of the Acts.

"Letter of government indicates that it is being clever with words and not willing to discuss agenda proposed by farmers organisations; this exposes their double-speak," the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, one of the groups participating in the agitation said.

So far, five rounds of formal talks held between the Centre and 40 protesting farmer unions remained inconclusive.  

The last round of talks was held on December 5, while the sixth round of talks originally scheduled for December 9 was called off a day after an informal meeting of Home Minister Amit Shah with some union leaders failed to reach any breakthrough.

The government had, however, followed up Shah's meeting with a draft proposal sent to the unions in which it had suggested 7-8 amendments to the new laws and written assurance on the MSP procurement system.

In its December 26th letter written to the government, farmer unions gave December 29 for the resumption of talks while made it clear that the modalities for the repeal of three farm laws and guarantee for MSP -- minimum support price at which the government procures crops from farmers -- should be part of the agenda for resuming talks with the government.

The date given by the government for the next round of talks is the same day when unions have also decided to hold a tractor march from Singhu Border and Tikri Border to the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) highway.

It's been over a month now that thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh, are camping at Delhi borders seeking repeal of the three farm laws.

They have threatened to intensify their stir in the coming days if their demands are not fulfilled.

The government has presented these laws as major agriculture reforms aimed at helping farmers and increasing their income, but protesting unions fear that these Acts have left them at the mercy of big corporates by weakening MSP and mandi systems.

While talks have remained deadlocked between the Centre and the agitating unions for almost a month now, the government has been meeting various other farmer groups that have extended their support to the new laws.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meanwhile, while flagging off the 100th 'Kisan Rail', also asserted that his government has undertaken historic reforms in the farm sector to boost agriculture and strengthen farmers and it will continue to do so with full force and dedication.

Modi said his government's policies are clear and intentions transparent in reforming the agriculture sector.

It will continue to work to strengthen farmers and agri sector with full force and dedication, he said.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Kailash Chaudhury today said that he is hopeful of some solution coming in the next round of negotiations.

False narrative hurting both farmers and economy: NITI Aayog's Rajiv Kumar 

NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said that false narratives about the new farm laws are doing significant harm to the interest of farmers as well as the economy in general. He also expressed his disappointment at some economists changing their stance on the new legislations.

"Any argument that these measures (the Centre's new farm laws) will open the farmers for exploitation by large corporates is completely false because the government has assured Minimum Support Price (MSP) to all the farmers on a range of crops," Kumar told PTI in an interview. 

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