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Opinion

The government will hold talks with farmers on December 1, as protests intensify

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The Union government has invited farmers’ representatives to the next round of discussions on Tuesday (December 1), as farmers protesting against a recently enacted set of laws to liberalize the agricultural sector intensified their agitation.

The next round of talks was originally scheduled for December 3. The decision to advance the talks came after Interior Minister Amit Shah and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar met twice in a 24-hour span on Monday to discuss their course of action.

Thousands of farmers, who are marching from various states to the national capital to protest against new farm legislation that they say will harm their interests, appeared to harden their position. They threatened to block all entry points into New Delhi and demanded the repeal of three agricultural laws.

“On November 13, during our last meeting, we decided to hold the next round of talks on December 3. However, the farmers have continued with their protests and with the Covid situation and the cold snap, we decided we had to speak before December 3, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told reporters after sending the invitation Monday night.

The discussions will take place at Vigyan Bhawan in the capital at 3pm. The Ministry of Agriculture has prepared a new series of presentations and videos on agricultural reforms, an official said. The government is expected to enlist some economists from Niti Aayog to join the discussions.

“We have not closed our doors to discussions. Conversations should be unconditional, candid, and inclusive. We are not interested in going to the left or to the right, we are saying ‘repeal these laws’. At the very least, the government must make it clear that it will rethink the laws, ”said Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj India, one of the leaders who spearheaded the farmers’ agitation.

On Sunday, agricultural leaders rejected an offer from Interior Minister Amit Shah to bring forward the date of talks scheduled for December 3, saying they would not accept the government’s condition that farmers move to the protest site first. assigned to them in Burari, on the outskirts of the capital.

Monday was the fifth day that farmers protested against a set of laws, passed by Parliament in September, to allow companies to freely trade agricultural products outside of the so-called government-controlled mandi system, allowing private traders to store large quantities of commodities for the future. sales and establish new rules for contract farming. Agricultural leaders say the new changes will leave them at the mercy of private buyers and vulnerable to exploitation.

On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking in Varanasi, criticized opposition parties for misleading farmers and defended their agricultural laws as “historic.” He said the opposition has created unfounded fears in the minds of farmers.

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