New Delhi: The seventh round of talks between protesting farmer unions and three central ministers ended inconclusively Monday. The farmer leaders insisted on the repeal of the three contentious farm laws right from the beginning. The government on the other hand listed various benefits from the farm laws. The next meeting will take place on January 8, farmer leaders said.
After the meeting Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said talks remained inconclusive as union leaders remained stuck on their demand for repeal of the three laws. He asserted that both sides need to make efforts to find solution.
The two sides took a long break after just about one hour of discussions. During the break representatives of protesting farmers had their own food, arranged from langar (community kitchen), as they have been doing for the last few times.
However, unlike the last round of talks December 30, the ministers did not join the farmer union leaders for the langar food. They were seen having their own discussion separately during the break.
The two sides got together again to resume their discussions at around 5.15pm. However, the meeting ended inconclusively as the talks remained focussed on the farmers’ demand for the repeal of the farm laws.
Farmer leaders said the government said it needs to consult internally and thereafter it would come back to the unions. The union leaders will also have their own meeting Tuesday to decide their next course of action.
In Monday’s talks, the two sides did not even discuss another key demand of farmers for a legal guarantee to the Minimum Support Price (MSP) procurement system.
During the meeting, the government listed various benefits from the three laws, enacted a few months ago. However, farmers kept insisting that the legislation must be withdrawn to address their apprehensions that the new Acts would weaken the MSP and mandi systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporates.
The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and has ruled out repealing the laws.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railways, Commerce and Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, who is an MP from Punjab, are holding the talks with the representatives of 41 farmer unions at the Vigyan Bhawan.