Union minister Som Parkash said he hoped the agitation against the new agricultural legislations would end on Wednesday, as the sixth round of talks between the government and farmer leaders got underway, reported ANI.
Parkash is one of the three representatives of the Centre, who, along with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, has been engaging with the farmers for over a month, trying to placate their anger about the market-oriented reforms introduced by the government in September. Five rounds of talks have failed to achieve a breakthrough.
“We hope that the talks [held on Wednesday] will be decisive,” the Union minister told the news agency. “Talks will be held on all issues, including the Minimum Support Price with an open heart. I hope that farmers’ agitation ends today.”
Meanwhile, Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, Punjab, Joint Secretary Sukhwinder Singh Sabra on Wednesday said his association did not think that an agreement would be reached during the sixth round of talks. “We don’t think we will reach a solution even today [Wednesday],” he added. “The three farms should be repealed.”
The deadlock between the government and protestors has persisted as the farmers’ unions still insist they want the laws repealed. Ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, the leaders wrote to the Centre, clarifying that the first item on the agenda of the meeting should be the modalities of scrapping the legislations.
But the government has refused to accept the demand. Instead it offered – through multiple channels – to make amendments to certain contentious sections of the laws. It also promised to provide a written guarantee that the legislations would not dismantle the existing minimum support price regime.
Earlier in the day, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made another attempt to reach out to the farmers, appealing to them to engage the government in a logical debate on every clause of the new agricultural legislations. He said the farmers should allow the administration “to do the needful to address their problems”.
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was anguished to see the farmers protesting against the reforms, which he initiated with the intention of doubling their income. “There is no question of being insensitive as far as the subject of farmers is concerned,” Singh had said.
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at key entry points to Delhi for 30 straight days against the laws now, withstanding temperatures dropping to two to three degrees Celsius.
The farmers fear the agricultural reforms will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, will lead to the deregulation of crop-pricing, deny them fair remuneration for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporations.
The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies. The law passed in September are meant to overhaul antiquated procurement procedures and open up the market, the government has claimed.