Amit Shah’s meet with farmers makes no headway; today’s talks hang in balance
While there was no official word from the government on the status of Wednesday’s scheduled meeting, many farm union leaders said there is no question of attending it and that they will take a call on their next course of action after studying the government’s written proposal.
After Union home minister Amit Shah’s meeting with farmers protesting against three contentious agricultural laws failed to make headway on Tuesday, the course of Wednesday’s meeting, the sixth round of talks between farmers and the central leadership to end the deadlock remains uncertain.
Shah met a group of 14 peasant leaders on Tuesday evening, however, the meeting failed to reach a breakthrough as the farmers refused to negotiate. Demanding just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from the home minister, the farmers reiterated that their only demand is the scrapping of the legislations that liberalise farm trade.
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Shah said agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar would present a concrete proposal in Wednesday’s talks and propose key amendments in the contentious agricultural laws that have triggered protests, according to farmers’ leaders, who attended the meeting at the state-run Indian Council of Agriculture Research’s (ICAR) Pusa Complex.
In Wednesday’s meeting, Shah said the government would propose amendments related to a fee structure in notified agriculture produce market committees (APMCs), stricter provisions to safeguard farmers’ land rights, strengthening of notified markets, and a guarantee on minimum support prices (MSPs), according to Hanan Mollah of the Kisan Sabha.
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While there was no official word from the government on the status of Wednesday’s scheduled meeting, many farm union leaders said there is no question of attending it and that they will take a call on their next course of action after studying the government’s written proposal. “We have rejected the proposal. And we will now discuss amongst ourselves whether to go ahead with tomorrow’s (Wednesday’s) talks...what’s the point?” said Darshan Pal of the Krantikari Kisan Union.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella platform under which various farm unions are spearheading the protests at Delhi’s borders, will hold a meeting at 10am Wednesday to decide their course of action, farmers’ leaders said.
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Wednesday’s meeting, if it takes place, will be the sixth time the two sides will be holding talks over farmers’ demand of scrapping the three pro-market agricultural laws they say will hurt their incomes and and leave them at the mercy of large corporations.
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at the borders of the national capital since November 26 against three farm laws- the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020- enacted by the Centre during the monsoon session of Parliament. The protesting farmers on Tuesday enforced a national shutdown from 11am to 3pm, which remained largely peaceful.
(With PTI inputs)