Centre-farmer talks fail to make headway; next meet on Jan 15
New Delhi, Jan 08: The eighth round of negotiations between the protesting farmer unions and the Centre on Friday hit the roadblock with farmers sticking to their demand of repeal of the farm laws and the Centre insisting that it cannot and will not take the laws back. The two sides are going to meet again of January 15.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting that lasted for little over two hours, Tomar said the government is still hopeful that union leaders will come with alternatives to discuss in the next round of talks on January 15.
But, he virtually ruled out repeal of the laws saying many other groups across the country are supporting these reforms.
On whether the government made a proposal to farmers to join a pending case in Supreme Court on issues related to farmers'' protest, Tomar said the government did not make any such suggestion but it is always committed to follow whatever is decided by the Supreme Court.
Asked whether the government would consider any proposal for allowing states to decide whether to implement the laws or not, Tomar said no such proposal was made by any farmer leader in this regard, but if such a suggestion is made the government will take a call at that time.
After the meeting, union leader Joginder Singh Ugrahan said the meeting was inconclusive and it was unlikely that any resolution can happen in the next round of talks as well.
"We do not want anything less than the repeal of laws," he said.
"Government is testing our strength, but we will not bow down. It seems we will have to spend Lohri and Baisakhi festivals here at protest sides," he said.
Another union leader Hannan Mollah said farmers are ready to fight till death and going to court was not an option.
He said the farmer unions will meet on January 11 to decide their next course of action.
Reportedly, not much discussions could take place at the meeting and the next date has been decided after keeping in mind a scheduled hearing of Supreme Court on January 11.
The apex court may look into the legality of the three laws, besides other issues related to farmers' protests.
Several rounds of between the two sides held earlier have failed to resolve the deadlock, with the government firm the laws won't be repealed, while the farmers are adamant on a complete rollback.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now against the three laws, despite the cold weather and heavy rains.
Enacted in September 2020, the government has presented these laws as major farm reforms aimed at increasing farmers'' income, but the protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the minimum support price (MSP) and "mandi" (wholesale market) systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporations.
The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and has ruled out a repeal of the laws. While several opposition parties and people from other walks of life have come out in support of the farmers, some farmer groups have met the agriculture minister over the last few weeks to extend their support to the three laws.
The government had sent a draft proposal to the protesting farmer unions last month, suggesting seven-eight amendments to the new laws and a written assurance on the MSP procurement system.