‘Won’t withdraw protest’: Farmers stick to resolve as talks yield little progress
Firming up their resolve, the farmers’ unions protesting the three contentious farm laws on Wednesday said that they will not take back their movement and won’t form a committee to scrutinise the legislation as asked by the government. The remarks from a farm union representative came after nearly five hours long meet between the Centre and 40 farm unions at Vigyan Bhawan in the national capital.
Thousands of protesters, primarily from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at borders around Delhi in the bitter cold asking for the rollback of three laws pushed for clearance by the government in September this year. The farmers have alleged that the laws will lead to corporate dominance of the farm sector and erode their incomes.
“Talks were positive today. The government has been saying that we should end agitation and form a committee. But we didn’t listen to them. We won’t take back our movement. We won’t form any committee,” All India Kisan Sabha’s Punjab president Balkaran Singh Brar said after meeting with the government representatives.
“We’ll discuss MSP in next meet,” Brar told news agency ANI.
Marking a shade of progress, the government on Wednesday said consensus has been reached on two issues out of four after the sixth round of talks with the protesting farmers’ unions.
The government and farm unions reached some common ground to resolve to protest farmers’ concerns over rise in power tariff and penalties for stubble burning, but the two sides remained deadlocked over the main contentious issues of the repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee for MSP.
The next meeting will be held on January 4, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said. The minister also said that the talks were held in a good environment and ended with a positive note.
Tomar said the union leaders kept insisting on the repeal of the three farm laws, but the government side tried to explain to them the benefits of the Acts and sought to know specific problems faced by the farmers.
On farmers’ demand for a legal guarantee for procurement at Minimum Support Price (MSP), the minister said the government has already said that it is ready to give a written assurance.
This meeting comes after a long gap as after the last meeting the situation resulted in a standoff with farmers being stern on their demand for a complete withdrawal of the laws and the Centre on not accepting it.
The meeting at Vigyan Bhawan in the national capital started around 2 pm and went on for over four hours. Though there was no definite answer to farmers’ demands, the environment on Wednesday was amicable as the leaders mingled with the central representatives during lunch and evening snack time.
(With inputs from PTI)