Ninth round of talks inconclusive, farmers and govt to meet again on Jan 19

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered an indefinite stay on the implementation of new agricultural laws and appointed a four-member panel to hear farmers’ objections
The ninth round of talks between farmer unions and three union ministers on Friday ended with stalemate over new agricultural laws, that protesters say will threaten their livelihoods. The two sides will meet again on January 19, news agency ANI reported.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railways, Commerce and Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, who is an MP from Punjab, held talks with representatives of 40 farmer unions at Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi.

"Our demands of repealing of the three farm laws & MSP guarantee remain. We will not go to the committee constituted by the Supreme Court. We will talk to the central government only,” said Rakesh Tikait, a leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, referring to the government-guaranteed support price for certain farm produce.

Baljit Singh Bali, a leader of Punjab Kisan Morcha union, said the government told the unions they were being inflexible by demanding the three laws be repealed. "In his opening remarks, Tomar ji said you keep saying that 'the government is adamant and making it an issue of ego', even though we have accepted several demands. Don't you think you should be flexible and not stick to one single demand of repealing the laws," said Bali, referring to the agriculture minister during a break from the meeting.

Previous rounds of talks have so far failed to mollify tens of thousands of farmers who have been camping out on the outskirts of Delhi for almost two months.

The government has been urging the farmers, who are mostly from Punjab, to end their protest over the laws introduced in September, but the farmers say they will not relent on their demands, as the bills are designed to benefit private buyers at the expense of growers.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered an indefinite stay on the implementation of new agricultural laws and appointed a four-member panel to hear farmers’ objections. Raising doubts over the panel’s composition, farmer union leaders have said they would not appear before the committee.

Bhupinder Singh Mann, one of the four members, has recused himself from the Supreme Court-appointed panel.

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