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Talks between the government and farmers hit a roadblock; Unions firm in repealing laws, Center says external forces are at play | India News

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NEW DELHI: Government negotiations with representatives of thousands of protesting farmers hit a roadblock on Friday when unions roundly rejected the Center’s proposal to suspend three contentious laws. The agriculture minister blamed outside “forces” for his rigid stance and said a solution is not possible when the sanctity of the upheaval is lost.
Unlike the last 10 rounds of talks, the 11th round saw both sides harden their positions and could not even make a decision on the next date of the meeting. The government asked the unions to reverse themselves before Saturday in case they agree to the suspension proposal and talks can only continue afterwards.
This followed a major setback made by the Center in the latest round of talks on Wednesday when it offered to suspend the laws for 1-1.5 years and form a joint committee to find solutions, in exchange for the protesting farmers returning to their respective homes. . from the borders of Delhi.
Peasant leaders, however, said they would settle for nothing less than a complete repeal of the laws, enacted in September last year, which they consider pro-business, and a legal guarantee for the acquisition of crops in MSP set by the government (support minimum price).
‘It will intensify the uproar’
The unions said they will intensify their agitation now and claimed that the government’s approach was not correct during the meeting. They also said their tractor rally will be held according to January 26 plans and the unions have told police that it is the government’s responsibility to keep the peace.
While the meeting lasted almost five hours, the two parties sat face to face for not even half an hour. Initially, peasant leaders informed the government that they had decided to reject the proposal made in the latest round of talks on Wednesday.
The three central ministers, including agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, urged union representatives to reconsider their position, after which the two sides took a break that lasted more than three hours.
The recess, during which the peasant leaders had their food in langar (community kitchen), also saw the 41 peasant leaders consulting with each other, sometimes in smaller groups, while the three central ministers waited in a separate room in Vigyan Bhawan.
After the meeting, the leader of the Bharatiya Kisan (Ugrahan) Union, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, said that the discussions had been interrupted because the unions rejected the government’s proposal.
Another farmer leader, Rakesh Tikait, said ministers said the suspension period can be increased up to two years, but the unions have stood firm in their demand for a complete repeal and a legal guarantee for the MSP.
The ministers told the unions that they have been given all possible options and should internally discuss the proposed suspension of the laws.
‘External forces in action’
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Tomar said that the government has always maintained a sensitive approach towards farmers and their interest, but that some forces were definitely working to keep up the turmoil and those forces certainly do not want farmers to benefit. .
“A resolution is not possible when the inviolability of an agitation is lost,” he said, adding that a decision cannot be reached in the interests of farmers if vested interests have the upper hand.
On whether he saw any division among union leaders over the government’s proposal, Tomar did not give a direct answer, but said: “We thank all farmer leaders, including those who support our proposal and those who are against.”
There have been reports that some unions supported the government’s proposal, but chose to go with the majority opinion to reject the offer.
Tomar said the government will wait if there are some who think in the interest of farmers and consider our proposal, the talks can move forward.
Stating that the unrest involved people mainly from Punjab and some from some other states, Tomar said that the government always tried to respect farmers’ unions and wanted the discussion to continue in the right direction.
He said 11 rounds of talks have been held so far, including one by government officials and the rest by three ministers.
“While peasant leaders were adamant in their demand for the repeal of the laws, the government tried to identify their concerns and offered many proposals, including some amendments to the laws,” he said.
“While dignity was maintained during the talks, there was no sense in making a decision in the interest of farmers by the unions. Therefore, the talks could not reach a decision. I am sorry too,” he said.
When asked what options the government has if the unions do not reconsider the offer and intensify their protest, Tomar said: “We have given them all possible options. If they have a better option, except repeal, they can tell us,” he added. said.
Stating that there cannot be a better proposal than the one made by the government, Tomar said: “We told the unions that they should reconsider since this proposal is in the interest of farmers and the country. Therefore, we said that we concluded the Today’s conversations. If you come to a decision, tell us tomorrow. We can meet anywhere to announce that decision. ”
The minister said that the agricultural reform laws were passed in Parliament to bring a transformation in the agricultural sector, make agriculture profitable, crack down on corruption and eliminate middlemen, help farmers grow high-value crops. and use new technologies to make good profits.
On the reports of the attack on the farmers and his proposed tractor rally, the minister said: “I have been thanking the farmers’ unions through the media and in meetings for holding a peaceful protest. I have expressed the Hope that the protest in the future should not be violent and there should be no adverse incidents and they maintain discipline. This would be my expectation. ”
When asked if the government is hopeful that the farmers’ unions will come again for the talks, Tomar said: “I think one should always be hopeful. Asha se hi aasman tika hai (Hope holds the world together).”
On whether he sees the stalemate at some point, Tomar said: “I cannot speculate what will happen tomorrow. I am not an astrologer. I am hopeful that the farmers’ unions will view our offer positively.”
‘Will not return without repeal’
Leaving the meeting place, peasant leader Shiv Kumar Kakka said there was no progress in the discussions. He was the first to leave the meeting, but said it was for “some personal reasons.”
Some leaders expressed fear that the movement will lose its momentum once farmers leave Delhi’s borders.
Harpal Singh, President of Bhartiya Kisan Union – Asli Arajnaitik (Royal Apolitical), said: “Even if we accept the government’s offer, our brothers sitting on the borders of Delhi will accept nothing but the repeal of the laws. They will not forgive us. What achievement will we show you? ”
He also questioned the government’s credibility, claiming it was hard to believe that they will keep their word to suspend the laws for 18 months.
“We will die here, but we will not return without the laws being repealed,” Singh said.
Those who support farmers’ protests are vilified: Sukhbir
Meanwhile, the head of Shiromani Akali Dal, Sukhbir Singh Badal, condemned the registration of a case against the party leader and chairman of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Manjinder Singh Sirsa.
The Akali Dal leader accused the Center of resorting to twisting tactics to “intimidate” all those who supported the farmers’ agitation. He alleged that the Center had attacked the DSGMC because it was at the forefront in providing aid to the agricultural movement.
“The DSGMC has been providing langar to farmers since the first day they arrived at the Singhu border and continues to do so even today,” Badal said in a statement.
‘No government will have the courage to reinstate the laws in 10-15 years’
Niti Aayog member Ramesh Chand has said that if the new farm laws are repealed, no government will have the courage to bring them back in the next 10 to 15 years, calling the current stalemate between the Center and farmers’ unions they protest as “a clash of egos”.
Chand, while addressing the media, said that agricultural issues have become “very complex” and that when it comes to the need for reform, he believes everyone is convinced.
“Somehow I feel like now, it has become a kind of ego clash. We need to somehow put this ego problem down and look at the broader interest of the industry.
“Because if these reforms are repealed, I don’t know if in the next 10 to 15 years anyone will have the courage to carry out these kinds of reforms,” ​​Chand said.
Thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh, are agitating on various borders of the national capital seeking the repeal of agricultural laws and the government’s legal guarantee for a minimum price of sustenance for their crops.
The 11 rounds of talks between the government and farmers’ unions have yielded no concrete results, although the government has offered a proposal to keep the laws suspended for 1 to 1.5 years.

Times of India

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