Govt's meeting with farmers ends in deadlock; next round of talks on Dec 3

The farmers have, meanwhile, decided to continue their sit-ins at the two Delhi borders for now
Talks on Tuesday between farmers’ groups and the Centre to break the deadlock over the agricultural Acts remained inconclusive, with both sides deciding to meet again on December 3.


Sources said during the more than two-hour-long meeting, farmers remained firm on their stand that nothing short of repealing the three Acts would be acceptable to them while the Central government offered to set up a committee to look at the issues raised by them.


The Central government, according to an official statement, has urged the groups to share their complaints on the three Central Acts by December 2. Then the matter will be taken up for discussion the next day.


The farmers have, meanwhile, decided to continue their sit-in at two Delhi borders for the time being and could move to more areas and rope in other groups of agriculturists.


The meeting was attended by representatives of more than 30 farmers’ unions, largely from Punjab, while the government side was represented by Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Food Minister Piyush Goyal, and Minister of State for Commerce Som Prakash.


Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh were not in the meeting.


Communist leader Hanan Mollah, Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh President Shiv Kumar Sharma (Kakkaji), and Bhartiya Kisan Union leader (from Haryana) Gurnam Singh Chaduni participated in the meeting.


Sources said a section of leaders from different western UP factions of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) later went to the agriculture ministry to further discuss the matter.


The panel, as suggested by the Central government, will comprise representatives of farming groups, experts, and government officials. It will the clauses of the Acts and get them clarified.


However, some farmer groups said they would not relent despite the assurance of a panel and the agitation would continue till the time the panel gives its findings.


The protesting farmers have expressed apprehensions that the laws would pave the way for dismantling the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big companies.


The government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.


“We are ready for discussions ... Let’s see,” Tomar told reporters when he arrived for the meeting.


He further said the government would reach a solution after hearing the farmer organisations.


Heavy security arrangements were in place at the meeting venue.


Hours before the meeting, Singh, Shah, Tomar, and Goyal, along with BJP chief J P Nadda, had discussions on the protests.


The farmers, meanwhile, continued their peaceful sit-in at the Singhu and Tikri borders with no untoward incident reported after Friday’s violence, while the number of protestors swelled at the Ghazipur border on Monday.


The opposition parties too stepped up pressure, asking the Centre to “respect the democratic struggle” of the farmers and repeal the laws.


A meeting on November 13 had failed to make any breakthrough and the next one was scheduled for December 3, but was advanced due to the protests.


In a related development, Yogendra Yadav Swaraj India leader and one of the prominent faces of the farmers’ agitation, decided to skip the meeting with the ministers after Shah reportedly objected to his being there.


According to a statement of Swaraj India, Yadav opted out because he did not want to harm the discussions though several farmers’ groups had decided to boycott the deliberations on this issue.


There was no official confirmation on this from the home ministry at the time of going to press.

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