Sixth-round of talks end on positive note as Centre, farmers' unions agree on two of four issues

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has said that the next round of talks will be on issues related to Minimum Support Price (MSP) and the three farm laws
Sixth-round of talks end on positive note as Centre, farmers' unions agree on two of four issues
Union Ministers Piyush Goyal, Narendra Singh Tomar and Som Prakash talking to reporters after the sixth round of talks with farmers' union leaders in Delhi on Wednesday Screen Grab

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the Centre and the farmers' union leaders have mutually agreed over two of the four issues during the sixth round of talks held at Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi on Wednesday.

“Today’s talks were conducted in a good environment and have ended on a positive note. The central government and the unions have a mutual agreement on two out of four issues,” Tomar told reporters after the nearly five-hour-long meeting. Union Ministers Piyush Goyal and Som Prakash also attended the meeting and stood along with Tomar as he spoke to reporters.

“The first issue we have an agreement is excluding farmers from the ordinance related to the environment. The union leaders have said that farmers should not be included in stubble burning,” Tomar said.

The second issue the two sides agreed upon was not introducing reforms in the Electricity Act. “The farmers' unions felt that if the reforms are introduced in the Electricity Act, they will suffer loses. Unions want the state governments to continue giving electricity subsidy to the farmers for irrigation,” the Agriculture Minister said.

Tomar has requested the farmers to send the elderly, women and children home due to the cold weather in Delhi. “Considering the cold weather in Delhi, I have urged the farmers to send the elderly, women and children home. The next round of talks will be held on January 4, 2021,” Tomar said, adding that issues relating to the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and the three farms laws will be in discussion during the January 4th talks.

During the meeting, the farmers’ leaders have demanded justice compensation for the families of the farmers who lost their lives during the ongoing protests. Meanwhile, the Centre informed the farmers that a committee could be formed to deliberate on the farmers’ demands regarding the three laws.

After the first half of the meeting, Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Piyush Goyal and Som Prakash had lunch with the farmers
After the first half of the meeting, Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Piyush Goyal and Som Prakash had lunch with the farmersTwitter

Ahead of their meeting with the Centre, the farmers’ union leaders made their stand clear that that the central government must repeal the three farm laws. Farmers have been protesting against the farm laws since November 26.

As the government invited 40 protesting farm unions for another round of talks, on Monday, Tomar said, ‘no power could exert pressure and influence PM Narendra Modi’, adding that Prime Minister was hardworking to improve the farmer's economic condition.

On Tuesday, as the agitation against farm laws enters 34th day, the Patna police had to lathi-charge a group of agitating farmers who were trying to march to the Bihar Governor’s residence expressing solidarity with the protesting farmers. On the same day, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has announced that they will provide free wifi to the protesting farmers.

According to reports, the farmers’ union said that they were not expecting a solution even after the sixth round of talks scheduled for today between the government and agitating farmers. The sixth round of talks was based on a four-point agenda put forward by the farmers. Firstly, the farmers have demanded a procedure to repeal the three central farm laws. Secondly, the farmers are demanding legal guarantee for the procurement of crops at profitable MSP. Thirdly, the farmers want amendments to the ‘Commission Ordinance for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas, 2020’. The farmers feel that the amendments are necessary to exclude farmers from penal provisions of the environment ordinance. Fourthly, farmers union are demanding the withdrawal of the draft ‘Electricity Amendment Bill 2020’ to protect the farmers' interests.

Meanwhile, in a tweet, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said, ‘Farmers don’t trust PM Modi.’

Reportedly, ahead of the crucial sixth round of talks, Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Piyush Goyal met Home Minister Amit Shah. Earlier, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reiterated that the government has no intention of withdrawing Minimum Support Price and that no one can take away their land from the farmers.

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