New Delhi, December 28
Protesting farmer unions on Monday agreed “in-principle” to a government proposal of holding the next round of talks on the new agricultural laws on December 30, but said the Centre should have spelt out the agenda of the meeting in its invite.
Earlier in the day, the government invited 40 protesting farmer unions for the next round of talks on December 30 on all relevant issues to find a “logical solution” to the current impasse over the three new farm laws.
Abhimanyu Kohar, a member of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha—an umbrella body of 40 unions protesting against the contentious legislations—said the farmers have agreed to go for the meeting on the date proposed by the Centre.
The government’s invite followed a proposal made by unions last week to hold the talks on December 29.
In a letter to the unions, Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Aggarwal has invited them for holding talks at 2 pm on December 30 at Vigyan Bhavan in the national capital.
So far, five rounds of formal talks held between the Centre and 40 protesting farmer unions remained inconclusive.
Taking note of the unions’ offer to resume talks, Aggarwal said, “The government is also committed to finding a logical solution on all relevant issues with a clear intention and an open mind.”
The farmers’ acceptance of the proposal came hours after the Centre sent them a letter suggesting December 30 as the date for the dialogue, against December 29 the protesting unions wanted.
“In our letter sent to the government on December 26, we had clearly mentioned that repeal of three farm laws and legal guarantee for MSP should be part of the agenda for fresh talks, but despite this, the government in letter today has not mentioned any specific agenda,” Kohar told PTI.
“But, we have agreed in-principle to hold talks with the government,” he said.
The government’s latest invite followed a proposal made by unions last week to hold the talks on Tuesday, December 29, on agenda, including modalities for the repeal of the three laws enacted in September.
Kohar said the government proposing to hold the talks on December 30, instead of agreeing to farmers’ suggestion of December 29, shows the Centre wants to assert its control.
More protesters join in at Singhu border
Meanwhile, the Singhu border where thousands of farmers have been camping in protest against the new laws since November 28, visibly swelled up on Monday as new protesters joined in over the weekend.
Navigating the highway-turned-township became challenging with the pathways being cramped as tractors and trolleys of new protestors occupied more and more space at the protest site.
Having already completed one month, the farmers said they were prepared for a long haul, and that essentials such as food and clothing are coming in in sufficient quantities to sustain their agitation.
Apprehensive that the new laws will lead to the elimination of the MSP regime and the mandi system, the farmers have been demanding the three legislations be repealed.
The government, on the other hand, has been projecting the laws as major reforms in the agriculture sector.
Several farmers who had gone to their villages after spending a few days at the protest sites have returned with their families.
Amrinder Singh from Patiala had gone back home on December 4, and returned on Saturday with his wife and sister. “More people are coming in, and to keep our fight going, each house in every village in Punjab is giving Rs 1,000.”
“More people will be coming from Fatehgarh Sahib on January 2 after a religious event there gets over,” he said.
It’s been over a month now that thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh, are camping at Delhi borders seeking repeal of the three farm laws. They have threatened to intensify their stir in the coming days if their demands are not fulfilled. — PTI