Govt, farmers' meeting ends with proposal to form committee; Round 2 talks on Dec 3

Rahul M
·5-min read
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railways and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railways and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash.

Amidst the intensifying farmers’s protests, the government on Tuesday (Dec 1) proposed the formation of a committee to discuss contentious provisions of the new farm laws with the farmers.

At a meeting held at New Delhi's Vigyan Bhawan to resolve the six-day deadlock, Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Piyush Goyal have asked farmer union leaders to nominate members to be part of the proposed committee which will also include agricultural experts and government representatives, said reports.

The first round of talks is now over and the next round of negotiations will take place on December 3.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh have been protesting at Singhu and Tikri borders since November 26 demanding a rollback of new farm laws, which they fear will dismantle the minimum support price system and corporatise farming.

Reports say the government currently has not decided to roll back the three farm laws: The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

The farmers sought a complete roll-back of the farm laws during the talks with the Centre. However, farmer unions have not expressed any happiness over the setting up of the proposed committee.

Reports said that the Centre gave a detailed presentation to the farmers' associations during the third round of talks to clear the air about the three agrarian laws.

The Centre assured the farmers that the Agricultural Produce Market Committees and the Minimum Support Price system will continue.

How the talks began

Several farmers’ leaders reached Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan on Tuesday, 1 December, for discussions with the Centre amid ongoing protests in the national capital over government’s new farm laws.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, ahead of the talks, said that the offers that the government will make will depend on the exact demands of the protesting farmers.

“Som Parkash ji, Piyush Goyal ji and I will be present in the meeting. The options which we will offer to them will depend on the exact demands which they present,” he said.

Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal had written to representatives of 32 farmer unions, including the Krantikari Kisan Union, Jammu Hari Kisan Sabha, Bhartiya Kisan Sabha (Dakauda), Kul Hind Kisan Sabha, Kriti Kisan Union and Punjab Kisan Union, inviting them for discussion on Tuesday, PTI had reported.

Talks advanced by 2 days

The talks that were scheduled to happen on 3 December were preponed taking into consideration the COVID-19 situation and winters, Tomar had said earlier.

“We decided to conduct the next round of talks on 3 December, but the farmers continued their protests and with the COVID-19 situation and winters, we decided that the talks should be held earlier,” ANI quoted Tomar as saying.

Tomar also stated that the farmers have misunderstood the newly enacted three laws, hence the government is ready to talk with the Kisan Unions, who were present in the first round of meeting with the Centre, news agency ANI reported.

The protesting farmers held a meeting earlier on Tuesday to take a decision on the Centre's offer to hold talks.

Sukhvinder Sabhran, Joint Secretary of Punjab Kisan Sangharsh Committee in Delhi told ANI that the government has invited only 32 farmer groups for the discussion out of 500 groups in the country.

“We won't be going for talks till all groups are called,” Sabhran was quoted as saying by ANI.

Amit Shah’s Conditional Offer; PM’s Attack on Oppn

Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday, 27 November, said, “The government is ready to deliberate on every problem and demand of the farmers.”

He said, “If farmers’ unions want to hold discussions before 3 December, then I want to assure you all that as soon as you shift your protest to the designated place, the government will hold talks to address your concerns the very next day.”

However, the farmers had rejected the offer to move to Burari, calling it an ‘open jail.’

Blaming the Opposition for the farmer protests during his visit to Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that the new farm laws will empower farmers and give them legal protection and blamed the Opposition for rumour-mongering and misleading the farmers.

PM Modi further blamed the previous governments for allegedly not fulfilling the promises made to the farmers.

PM Modi reaches out to farmers

The Union government's move to advance discussions with farmers' unions comes soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to them during his public address in Varanasi.

The prime minister accused the opposition parties of spreading lies about the farm bills. He assured the farmers that the government is continuously trying to resolve their concerns and expressed the confidence that the farm laws will facilitate an increase in their incomes.

(With inputs from ANI and PTI)