Centre-Farmer Talks Today; Govt to Not Budge on Rollback of Laws

Representatives of farmer unions and the central government will meet Friday to participate in a fresh round of talks to break the deadlock over the recently-enacted agricultural laws. The eighth round of talks will be held between a ministerial committee, including Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Som Prakash, and 41 representatives of farm organizations.

The seventh round of talks remained inconclusive Monday over two key demands — repeal of the newly enacted laws and provision of legal guarantee on the minimum support price.

On Thursday, Tomar met religious leader Baba Lakha Singh, one of the heads of the Nanaksar Sikh sect based in Punjab. Singh, who has been organising langar at the protest sites, said he wished to mediate between the government and protesting farmers. While Tomar played down the meeting, farmer unions said the religious leader wasn’t speaking for them.

A day before the talks, thousands of farmers held a tractor march, a “dress rehearsal” for Republic Day on January 26, when they plan to hold a bigger march towards Delhi. Farmers say over 5,000 tractors rode towards the eastern and western peripheral expressways from Singhu, Tikri, Ghazipur and Palwal.

Today’s talks between farmers and the government is set to be held at the Vigyan Bhavan at 2 pm, reports PTI. The last round of talks, held last Monday, failed to break the deadlock over the contentious farm laws, enacted in September.

Former Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Thursday said the Punjab BJP was trying to defame the farmers’ protest by accusing peasants farmers of indulging in politics. “After several rounds of meetings if ministers are unable to resolve the farmers’ issues then Prime Minister Narendra Modi should directly talk to protesting farmers,” she said.

“It is strange that farmers are spending nights in open during the chilling winters and even then their demands are falling on deaf ears. Farmers are dying at the doorstep of the central government while protesting for their demands. Who will be responsible for deaths of ‘annadaatas’ of the country?” she added.