Farmers protest: Talks fail again on repeal pitch, next meet on Friday
By Express News Service
NEW DELHI/CHANDIGARH: The seventh round of talks between the Centre and farmers ended in a stalemate on Monday as both sides stuck to their positions on the issue of repeal of the three contentious farm laws. While the two sides agreed to meet again on Friday, the farmers said they would hold a meeting on Tuesday to discuss ways to intensify their protest.
Sources said the talks began with the government categorically stating the laws cannot be repealed but amendments can be made, if needed. The unions rejected this saying their demand of repeal of the farm laws is non-negotiable.
The government, then, attempted to hold discussions on the MSP, but the protesters would have none of it as they insisted the government must first address their demand to repeal the objectionable laws.The bitterness continued during the lunch that followed, with the farmers refusing to break bread with the ministers. “You eat your food, we will eat ours,” sources quoted the union leaders as saying.
This is in a sharp contrast to the camaraderie displayed on December 30, when agriculture minister Narendra Tomar and commerce minister Piyush Goyal shared the food brought by the farmers. “The government repeated everything and asked us for a point-wise discussion. Our demand is that there can no negotiations on repealing the new laws,” farm leader Harmeet Kadiyan said. “The government claimed many farm organizations were supporting the laws while we mentioned that an RTI has revealed the laws were passed without discussion with any farmer organization. We will go ahead with our programmes scheduled between January 6 and 20,” he added.
Sources said it was Minister of State for Industries Som Parkash who convinced the farm union leaders to agree to meet again on January 8. After the meeting, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, “The fact that the farmers are talking to us shows that they trust the government. We are hopeful all issues would be resolved after the next meeting.”
Harinder Singh Lakhowal of BKU Punjab said the only agenda for the January 8 meeting is the repeal of laws. Hannan Mollah of All India Kisan Sabha said, “The agitation will not be withdrawn until laws are repealed.”