No end result, subsequent assembly on January 8

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4

The seventh round of talks between farmers’ leaders and union ministers ended inconclusively on Monday as the former stuck to their demand for repeal of the three farm laws and legal guarantee on MSP.

Jagmohan Singh Patiala of BKU (Dakaunda) said: “We told the government that there is no alternative. The ministers said they would hold consultations and get back. The next meeting is on January 8. The pressure is on the government as the agitation is now a people’s movement.”

With the government also remaining firm on its stance, the farm unions will meet on Tuesday to discuss the next course of action.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the government, which was aware of the farmers’ concerns, had offered clause-wise discussion on the Acts. “The meeting was held in good atmosphere, but since the farmers remained adamant on their demands, we could not arrive at any conclusion,” he said, hoping that the “issue will be resolved soon”.

“The date of the next meeting was decided unanimously,” Tomar said in response to accusations of farmers’ “lack of trust” in the government and its own “lack of interest” in resolving the issue. “It is an important issue involving the entire country. The laws have been made keeping in mind the best interests of the farmers,” he said.

BKU leader Rakesh Tikait said: “They (Tomar, Piyush Goyal and Som Prakash) kept listing out benefits of the new Acts. But we are not going home till the laws are repealed.”

During the break, the union leaders had their own food, arranged from langar, as they have been doing for the last few times. And unlike the last round of talks, the ministers did not join them and were seen having their own discussion separately. Sources say the government has already relented on the proposed Electricity Amendment Bill and ordinance on stubble burning and this is all it is willing to do.

“Given the kind of support the agitation has received, the matter seems to have moved out of the government’s hands for a resolution on a middle path,” says an analyst. As they have drawn elaborate plans for Lohri and Republic Day, it is clear that the farmers are in no hurry to move from the Delhi borders despite adverse weather.

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