Talks between three union ministers and a representative group of thousands of agitating farmers failed to yield any resolution , as the union leaders stuck to their demand for the repeal of new farm laws and even refused the lunch, tea and water offered to them during almost eight-hour-long hectic parleys.
On its part, the government assured the group of nearly 40 farmer leaders that all their valid concerns would be addressed, but the other side flagged several loopholes and deficiencies in the laws, which they said were passed hastily in September.
The agriculture ministry tweeted that doubts of farmers were addressed by agriculture and farmers welfare minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who led the government side at the talks. Tomar later told reporters that the next meeting will take place on Saturday at 2 pm.
Besides Tomar, the government side included railways and commerce minister Piyush Goyal and minister of state for commerce Som Parkash, who is also an MP from Punjab.
Union leaders , who came out of the meeting venue shouting slogans, said the talks remained deadlocked and some of them threatened to boycott any further meetings if no solution was found at Thursday’s meeting.
“Discussions are over from our side. Our leaders have said they will not attend further meetings if a solution is not given today by the government,” said Pratibha Shinde, All India Kishan Sangharsh Coordination Committee working group member and president of Lok Sangharsh Morcha, which represents farmers of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Another farmer leader Kulwant Singh Sandhu said the government made many proposals including on MSP and procurement system, which would be discussed among the farmer organisations on Friday, before the next meeting with the government on Saturday.
“We listed all drawbacks before government, they had to admit that there are drawbacks & they’ll make amendments. We said we don’t want amendments but withdrawal of laws. We also demanded that MSP be implemented for certain & law should be made for it” said Baldev Singh Sirsa, farmer leader.
Sources said the government gave a detailed presentation on the three new laws and asserted its intent towards the welfare of the farmers.
The 40 farmer leaders present at the meeting refused the lunch offered by the government and preferred to eat the food ferried in a van from the Singhu border, where thousands of their colleagues are sitting in protest against the new agri laws.
They also did not accept tea and water offered to them during the meeting, which began around mid-day.
“Talks have made little progress. In the half time it seemed that today’s meeting will yield no result, in second half it seemed that there is pressure of farmers agitation, on govt. Talks were held in a conducive atmosphere” said Harjinder Singh Tanda, Azaad Kisan Sangharsh Committee