10th round of talks between Centre, protesting farmers to be held today
The tenth round of talks between the Centre and protesting farmers over the three farm laws enacted in September will be held on Wednesday, days after the previous discussions between the two sides made no headway on Friday.
The farmers, who have threatened to march to Delhi on Republic Day (January 26) if the laws are not scrapped, have been camping on the outskirts of Delhi in protest against the laws. The government says the laws are meant to benefit the cultivators as they no longer will be required to sell produce at regulated wholesale markets. The farmers maintain that legislation was introduced to benefit big corporations.
Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Friday said the ninth round of talks with farmers unions were inconclusive but they will hold another round of discussion on Tuesday. The tenth round was later deferred by a day.
Tomar expressed confidence on Friday that they will be able to come to an agreement. He added they were concerned about the health of farmers, who have been protesting despite cold weather and heavy rains over the last month.
Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait, who attended the meeting on Friday, echoed Tomar, saying they were committed to finding a solution through dialogue and that is why they agreed to meet again.
Farm unions again demanded that the government commit to complete rollback of the laws at Friday’s talks. The government reiterated its position and ruled out a repeal. It proposed that the 41-member farmers’ delegation form a “smaller group” with “people who have expertise on the laws”.
The Supreme Court last week named a four-member panel to talk to the farmers as it stayed the implementation of the laws. Farmer unions have questioned the panel’s composition and have said they will not appear before it as the panel members have favoured the laws.
Bhupinder Singh Mann, who was named as one of its members, has recused himself from the panel.