The Centre, after its sixth meeting with the farmers’ unions on Wednesday, said that it had arrived at consensus on two out of four matters flagged by them. Earlier in the meeting, the government said that it could form a committee to deliberate on their demands related to the agricultural laws.
Ahead of the meet, Union minister Som Parkash said that Wednesday’s discussion will be decisive. On the other hand, Sukhwinder Singh Sabra, Joint Secretary of the Punjab unit of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee said his association did not think that an agreement will be reached. The previous five rounds of talks between the farmers and the Centre have failed to produce any breakthroughs.
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at Delhi’s borders. The protestors say the laws will dismantle regulated markets, and hurt their livelihoods by making them vulnerable to big corporations. They want the laws to be scrapped.
The Centre has refused to address the demand of repealing the laws. It did, however, offer making amendments to certain sections along with a written guarantee on MSP.
Here are the top updates of the day:
8.09 pm: Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait says the farmers’ two key concerns are yet to be resolved. “We’ll discuss topics related to MSP and repealing of the three farm laws in the next meeting on January 4,” he says, according to ANI.
7.52 pm: Agriculture minister NS Tomar says that the meeting ended on a very good note.
7.46 pm: The Centre says discussions will continue on the legal aspect of MSP and other concerns at the next meeting, ANI reports.
7.41 pm: Tomar says he has urged the farmers to send home the elderly, women and children. He adds that the next round of talks will be held on January 4.
7.35 pm: The meeting between the farmers and Centre ends. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar says the Centre has reached a consensus with the farmers on two out of four issues, ANI reports.
He adds: “First issue was an ordinance related to the Environment. Unions were apprehensive about farmers being included along with Parali [stubble burning] ones. Both sides agreed to farmers’ exclusion.” They also arrive at a consensus on electricity subsidy.
6.21 pm: The president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry urges Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to help stop damage to national assets during farmers’ protests, ANI reports. “Continuation of agitation, with incidents of damage to industrial and other infrastructure, would turn investors away from Punjab,” the official says.
6.06 pm: The government tells the farmers that it could form a committee to deliberate on their demands, ANI reports.
6.05 pm: Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Piyush Goyal joined the farmer leaders for lunch at Vigyan Bhavan.
4.48 pm: At their meeting with the Centre, farmer leaders demand justice and compensation for those who died during protests against the agricultural laws, ANI reports.
4.44 pm: The Congress accuses BJP of aiding corporate interests and demands the repealing of three farm laws, Hindustan Times reports.
“The central government has met the farm leaders several times now,” Congress leader Selja Kumari says. “It has called the farmers again today [Wednesday], but how will they proceed when the government refuses to compromise.”
2.34 pm: The sixth round of talks between the farmers and Centre is underway.
2.23 pm: Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Piyush Goyal arrive at Vigyan Bhawan to hold talks with farmer leaders, reports ANI.
1.46 pm: Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tait leaves for Vigyan Bhawan to participate in the sixth round of talks with the government, reports ANI.
1.30 pm: Representatives of farmer unions reach Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi for sixth round of talks with Centre on the agriculture laws, reports ANI.
1.28 pm: Union minister Som Parkash, who has been part of the Centre’s delegation in the talks with the farmers, says today’s meeting will be decisive, reports ANI.
12.07 pm: A trader firm, Khoja Traders, allegedly dupe 22 farmers in Madhya Pradesh’s Harda district of 2,581 quintals of lentil and gram produce worth nearly Rs 2 crore, citing the three farm laws, reports The Indian Express.
12.04 pm: A delegation of farmers leaves Singhu border to hold talks with the Centre over the three farm laws, reports ANI.
11.59 am: Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh says the acts of vandalism should stop after mobile towers were vandalised in Punjab, reports ANI. “Our farmers from Punjab should think about this,” Singh adds.
11.52 am: Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal has decided to provide free WiFi spots near the Singhu border where the farmers are protesting to help them get in touch with their families, reports News18. Party leader made the announcement citing complaints from the farmers that the cellular reception was weak.
11.48 am: Many farmers protesting at the Ghazipur border, mostly from Uttar Pradesh and some from Uttarakhand, say that they were being paid less than the Minimum Support Price for their crops, The Indian Express reports. They add that in the case of sugarcane farmers, they have not been paid at all for years.
10.34 am: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh says there is no question of being insensitive towards farmers. “Our farmers are holding demonstrations and I am not the only one pained but Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pained as well,” he adds in an interview with ANI. “...Our heads bow in respect towards our farmers. They are our ‘annadatas [provider of food]’”
10.31 am: At the Ghazipur border protests, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait says it is essential to have a strong Opposition in the country that the “government fears but here they don’t”. “This is why farmers had to come on roads,” he says, reports ANI. “Opposition should sit in pitched tents and stage protest on roads against the farm laws.”
10.29 am: Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, Punjab, Joint Secretary Sukhwinder Singh Sabra says five rounds of talks between farmers and government have taken place, reports ANI. “We don’t think we will reach a solution even today,” he adds. “The three farms should be repealed.”
7.22 am: Ahead of the resumption of talks, farmer unions on Tuesday wrote to the government saying the discussion can only be on a four-point agenda including modalities of repealing the laws and providing a legal guarantee on minimum support price, reports The Indian Express.
“In its letter to us, the government acknowledged our agenda, but did not specifically mention repealing the laws,” said Surjit Singh Phool of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Krantikari). “Their letter lacks clarity, but we believe that their act of asking us for the agenda was a welcome step. Now, we expect something new from them, something that is in the direction of finding the best way to repeal the laws.”
7.18 am: The leaders of farmer unions will meet central ministers on Wednesday to hold the sixth round of negotiations over the new agricultural legislations. Ahead of the talks, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, who are among those representing the Centre in these discussions, met Union home minister Amit Shah on Tuesday, reports NDTV.
7.16 am: In response to a Right to Information query filed by NDTV, the government says it does not “hold any record” on whether farmers were consulted about the farm laws. The Narendra Modi government has been criticised by the Opposition and farmer groups for not holding enough consultations before the bills were passed.
7.10 am: Here are the top updates from Tuesday
- Farmers’ unions told the Centre that their sixth meeting on December 30 should focus on repealing the three agricultural laws. The government has so far failed to mollify the protestors who say the reforms threaten their livelihoods and pave the way for corporate exploitation.
- Thousands of people led by farmers’ union Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti and organisations affiliated to Left parties marched to the governor’s residence, Raj Bhawan, in Bihar’s capital Patna, demanding the scrapping of the three new agriculture laws.
- Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar said that the Centre cannot not run agriculture while “sitting in Delhi” since it concerned hardworking farmers in the villages. He added that the government “bulldozed” the three agricultural laws by not consulting the states.