New Delhi, December 31
The lunch diplomacy of Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has played an instrumental role in shaping up a positive development following the sixth round of talks between the government and the representatives of farmers’ organisations.
Unlike the previous five meetings that ended on an inconclusive note, the sixth round of talks held here at Vigyan Bhawan on Wednesday saw the government and farmers coming on the same page on two key issues out of four.
The way the Wednesday meeting between the farmers and the government happened, the possibilities of solving the farmers’ movement have increased.
Farmer leaders are also hopeful that the way the government on Wednesday agreed to the demands like keeping farmers out of the purview of stubble burning and continuation of electricity subsidy, in the same way, the meeting on January 4 will also be positive.
The agenda for the January 4 meeting has been set.
This meeting is to be held on two issues like the three agricultural laws and the guarantee of MSP.
During the lunch break at Vigyan Bhawan on Wednesday at 2.30 p.m., two hours after the sixth round meeting, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Union Minister of State Som Prakash reached out to the farm leaders when they were getting ready to eat the ‘langar’ meal.
Since the last two meetings, the farmer leaders have been eating the langar meal instead of the food being provided by the government during the meal breaks.
Agriculture Minister Tomar, addressing a farmer leader, said: “O Paa ji … you are eating alone?” Responding to this, the farmer leader said: “No… no Sir… let’s arrange some meal plates for you.” Soon, the three ministers of the Narendra Modi government also took a plate in their hands and started queuing up to eat the langar meal.
According to sources, the ice was broken mainly during the lunch break. What could not be seen happening during the presentation of the officers in the meeting of Vigyan Bhawan happened during a casual conversation between the ministers and the farmer leaders.
Eating lunch with the ministers and then later having tea break together also sent out a positive message among the farmer leaders.
Tomar also agreed to continue the power subsidy, along with withdrawal of provisions for action against farmers for burning stubble in the ordinance brought to prevent air pollution in Delhi-NCR during lunch and tea break.
At the same time, he tried to find a middle path by asking the farmer leaders to form a committee on MSP and all three agricultural laws. According to sources, this softening in the attitude of the government was appreciated by the farmer leaders due to which the representatives after resolving the issues related to stubble and electricity, willingly approved to attend the meeting on January 4 on Agriculture Law and MSP.
What did farmer leaders say?
Farmer leader Shivkumar Kakka told IANS: “A total of four issues were taken up in today’s meeting, out of which the government has agreed to two demands from farmers. Now agriculture laws and MSP are to be discussed further.” Rakesh Tikait, national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), told IANS that the conversation took place in a positive environment.
Harpal Singh Bellary of the BKU told IANS: “The government has agreed to issue the order, agreeing on two issues related to electricity and stubble. The repeal of the three laws and the guarantee of the MSP could not be done yet. Now, these two issues will be discussed in the January 4 meeting. ” — IANS