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Opinion

“ We cannot and will not repeal the laws, ” says the Center as negotiations on agriculture reach another deadlock

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The Union government has told protesting agricultural unions that it “cannot and will not repeal” three contentious agricultural laws during the eighth round of talks that took place on Friday in Vigyan Bhavan, the country’s capital, an agricultural leader told HT, deepening the stalemate between the two. sides. The next round of talks is scheduled for January 15.

Tens of thousands of farmers have been protesting for more than a month, demanding that the government remove their pro-reform farm laws passed by Parliament in September.

“The government has said it cannot and will not repeal the laws,” said Kavitha Kuruganti, an agricultural leader who was present at the talks.

The first session of the talks, which ended recently, saw farmers harden their position, who said they were only interested in a repeal of the laws.

According to Kuruganti, agricultural leaders raised slogans within the competition to make their position clear: “We will die or we will win.”

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Three Union ministers, Narendra Tomar, Piyush Goyal and Som Parkash, who represent the Center, met with the Union Minister of the Interior, Amit Shah, before starting the talks.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar, opening the negotiations, said that the three federal laws to open agricultural markets apply to the entire country and many farmers’ organizations support the laws.

“The government said it could not repeal the laws and is willing to discuss anything that farmers find objectionable,” Balbir Singh Rajewal, an agricultural leader, told HT from inside the venue.

Rajewal, who opened the negotiations from the farmers’ side, said farmers will not give up their agitation unless the laws are repealed.

The farmers raised the issue of the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Punjab insulting the protesting agricultural leaders and calling them Khalistanis, a reference to the Sikh separatist movement.

“We told the government that this is very objectionable. On the one hand, the government is negotiating with the farmers, while the ruling party leaders are trying to cloud our movement all the time, ”Rajewal said.

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During a tea break in the middle of the talks, the three ministers sat in a separate adjacent room to discuss among themselves.

The seventh round of talks, held on January 4, had also ended in a stalemate. While farmers lobbied the government to repeal all three agricultural laws, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said it was not possible to commit to a repeal.

In the previous round of talks, held on December 30, the government agreed to two demands from the peasants. One, the government had agreed not to pay farmers directly in cash in lieu of an energy subsidy for agricultural use, which, according to farmers, would increase energy costs for them. Two, the government had agreed to keep farmers out of the scope of an anti-pollution law that prescribes severe penalties for burning crop residues.

Farmers are demanding the repeal of three laws in favor of the reforms, as well as a legal guarantee for the minimum support prices set at the federal level.

The laws remove restrictions on the purchase and sale of agricultural products, remove restrictions on storage under the Essential Products Act of 1955, and allow contract farming based on written agreements.

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