Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 4
The seventh round of talks between the protesting farmers and the Centre began here on Monday afternoon.
Sources attending the meeting said on Monday afternoon that impasse continued over the farmers’ key demands of having the three controversial agriculture laws repealed as well as having a legal framework to ensure minimum support price. Sources said that the central government continues to stick to its guns, reiterating what it says are the benefits of the laws even as farmers remain unconvinced.
Farmers have already outlined what they expected from the meeting—they have repeatedly refused to climb down from their demands but hope that this round of talks would help bring along a breakthrough.
Today’s meeting is expected to yield “some outcome on the demand for a law on MSP”, which is believed to be the first agenda on the meeting, after paying tributes to farmers who have lost their lives during the course of the agitation so far.
Farmers are demanding a guaranteed MSP on 23 crops so that they can “diversify” from paddy and wheat.
“But from my understanding of the situation, it is unlikely that the government’s representatives will agree to our demands so easily,” farmer leader Darshan Pal said before proceeding to Vigyan Bhawan for the seventh round of meeting.
Also read: Ahead of meet, Sonia seeks repeal of laws
On the other hand, Buta Singh Shadipur said he was hopeful of a good outcome from the meeting.
“The farmers have been braving rains and cold and the government is now well aware of our resolve. I am sure the government has understood the reality,” he said expressing hope of some “positive outcome” from the meeting.
Farmers are also demanding live coverage of the talks with the government.
Though 40 unions are present at the meeting, the talks are mostly headed by a group chosen by the representatives.
Sources say leaders want a “complete transparency” in talks with the government.
Union Minister for Agriculture Narendra Tomar expressed hope of a positive outcome from the meeting that is being considered a ‘make or break’.
According to BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, “Sixty farmers have been martyred and there can be no going back on the demands now.”
“The agenda will be the Swaminathan Committee report, the repeal of the three farm laws and law for MSP. We will not go back. Till date, 60 farmers have been martyred. The government will have to reply,” he said ahead of the meeting at 2 pm on Monday.
It is not just the three laws and MSP that the farmers are contesting; they have also junked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim of implementing recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission on the MSP for crops, saying farmers are committing suicide as they are not getting the remunerative price for their produce.
With both sides firm on their stances, Monday’s meeting is expected to be a make-or-break one. Ahead of talks Punjab’s farm unions said they would burn copies of the three contentious farm laws on Lohri (January 13) and celebrate January 23—Netaji Subhas Chander Bose’s birth anniversary—as ‘Azad Kisan Diwas’. In other words, they believe they will be celebrating Lohri at the Delhi borders.