The negotiations between the farmer unions and the Centre hit an impasse on Friday after representatives of the protestors stood firm on their demand for a complete repeal of the new agriculture laws, reported PTI. The 11th round of talks between the two sides went on for nearly five hours, but less than half an hour was spent on active discussions, according to the news agency.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the discussions hit a roadblock as the farmers’ welfare was not at the “heart of the talks from the unions’ side”. “Farmer unions said that they only want the repeal of the laws despite the government asking for alternatives,” he said, according to ANI. “We asked them to reconsider our proposal as it is in the interest of farmers and the country. We asked them to convey their decision tomorrow [Saturday].”
Tomar said the discussions can continue only if the farmers agreed to the Centre’s proposal of temporarily pausing the implementation of the laws, and forming a joint committee to reach a solution.
The Union minister also told the farmers to present their own proposal, apart from the withdrawal of the laws, “if they have got anything better than our offer”, reported PTI. Tomar said he did not want to speculate on whether the protesting farmers will agree to the government offer, but added that the Centre was hopeful that the farm unions will consider its proposal “positively”.
“We should remain hopeful,” Tomar said. “Let’s wait till tomorrow to hear farmer unions’ final decision.”
The agriculture minister alleged that certain external forces were trying to make sure that the protests do not end. “Government gave many proposals to end the protest, but no resolution is possible when the sanctity of an agitation is lost,” Tomar said, according to PTI.
The minister highlighted that the talks between the government and farmers began on October 14, and both sides sat down 11 times for negotiations.
After the meeting, farm union representatives said their protests will intensify, and claimed that the government’s approach during the discussions was not correct. At the outset, the farm leaders informed the government about their decision to reject its proposal made on Wednesday.
Following the announcement, the Union ministers urged the farm leaders to reconsider their decision, after which they went for a lunch break for over three hours. During this time, 41 farmer leaders also held consultations among themselves.
Bhartiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait told ANI that the government offered to put the implementation of the farm laws on hold for two years. However, he added that the proposed tractor rally will take place as scheduled on January 26.
Farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said it was for the Centre to make sure that the tractor rally was peaceful. “Tractor march on January 26 will take place as decided by us on Outer Ring Road [in Delhi],” he said, according to PTI. “We have informed the police that it is for the government to ensure that it should be peaceful.”
On Wednesday, the farmers had rejected the Centre’s proposal to suspend implementation of the three agricultural laws for 1.5 years. They remained firm on their demand for a complete rollback of the legislations.
Tens of thousands of farmers have been camping out on the outskirts of Delhi for nearly 60 days, demanding the repeal of the three agricultural laws passed in September. The farmers believe that the new laws undermine their livelihood and open the path for the corporate sector to dominate agricultural. 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.