NEW DELHI, 22 Jan: The government’s negotiations with protesting farm unions hit a roadblock on Friday as the farmer leaders stuck to their demands for a complete repeal of three farm laws they find pro-corporate and a legal guarantee for MSP, even as the Centre asked them to reconsider its proposal for putting the acts on hold for 12-18 months.
Unlike the last 10 rounds of talks, the 11th round could not even reach a decision on the next date for the meeting as the government also hardened its position, saying it is ready to meet again once the unions agree to discuss the suspension proposal. This followed a big climb-down made by the Centre during the last round when they offered to suspend the laws and form a joint committee to find solutions.
Farmer leaders said they will intensify their agitation now and alleged that the government’s approach was not right during the meeting. They also said their tractor rally will go ahead as per the plans on 26 January and unions have told the police that it is the government’s responsibility to maintain peace.
While the meeting lasted for almost five hours, the two sides sat face to face for less than 30 minutes. In the very beginning, the farmer leaders informed the government that they have decided to reject the proposal made by the government in the last round of talks on Wednesday.
The three central ministers, including Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, urged the union representatives to reconsider their stand, after which the two sides went for a lunch break.
The break, during which the farmer leaders had their langar (community kitchen) food, lasted for more than three hours and also saw the 41 farmer leaders holding consultations among themselves, at times in smaller groups, while the three central ministers waited in a separate room at Vigyan Bhavan.
After the meeting, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) leader Joginder Singh Ugrahan said the discussions have broken down as the unions rejected the government’s proposal.
Another farmer leader, Rakesh Tikait said the ministers said the suspension period could be increased to up to two years, but the unions remained firm on their demand for a complete repeal and a legal guarantee for minimum support price mechanism for procurement of crops.
The ministers told the unions that they have been given all possible options and they must discuss internally the proposal of suspending the laws.
Tomar told the farmer leaders that the government would be ready for another meeting if farmers want to discuss the proposal, sources said. (PTI)