India / 6th round of talks cancelled, farmers to discuss draft sent by Centre: BKU

Zoom News : Dec 09, 2020, 12:54 PM
NEW DELHI: The government has cancelled its crucial sixth round of talks with 40 protesting farmers' unions that was scheduled on Wednesday as farm leaders declined to participate, after a meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday night failed to break the deadlock.

"Today's meeting with farmer unions' leaders has been cancelled," a Union Agriculture Ministry's spokesperson told PTI.

There was no official confirmation whether the government has sent a written proposal to farmer unions on key amendments to some of the provisions of the three farm laws.

The Home Minister' meeting on Tuesday with a select group of union leaders that included Hannan Mollah of the All India Kisan Sabha and Rakesh Tikait of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) had failed to break the ice.

In the meeting, Shah had offered amendments to some of the provisions of the three farm laws in writing.

But many farm leaders had said they will not attend Wednesday's meeting and that they will take a call on their next course of action after studying the government's written proposal on Wednesday.

After the meeting, All India Kisan Sabha General Secretary Hannan Mollah had told the media that the meeting with the Centre, which was scheduled to take place today, stood cancelled and they will get a proposal from the government on which they will deliberate.

"No meeting will be held between farmers and the government tomorrow. The Minister has said that a proposal will be given to the farmer leaders tomorrow (December 9). Farmer leaders will hold a meeting over government's proposal," Mollah had told the media on Tuesday.

He also said that from the last five days farmers and the Centre are discussing the same issues, and added that the government is not ready to take back the farm laws.

Mollah said that the farmer unions will meet at 12 noon on Wednesday.

"Tomorrow we will hold a meeting at Singhu border (Delhi-Haryana border) at 12 noon," he said.

However, later Rakesh Tikait, spokesperson of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) described the meeting with Union Ministers as 'positive' and said that the government would give a draft to the farm leaders today, which would be discussed by the rest of the group.

"I would say that the meeting was positive. The government has taken cognizance of our demands and will give a draft to us tomorrow, which we will deliberate upon," Tikait said after the meeting here yesterday.

Tikait, however, continued to assert that the farmers wanted the complete withdrawal of the three farm bills, while the government wanted to make amendments.

"We have not yet received a date for another meeting. The protest will continue," he added.

Meanwhile, a joint delegation of Opposition parties is scheduled to meet President Ram Nath Kovind later in the evening today, CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said that leaders from different political parties will meet today to take a collective stand on the new farm laws.

No breakthrough has been possible in the five rounds of talks so far as the protesting farmers have stuck to their demand for the repeal of the laws despite the government's assurance to look into specific issues without abolishing the legislations.

In the previous meeting on December 5, Agriculture Minister Narender Singh Tomar had assured 40 farmer union leaders that the government is open to considering ways to strengthen APMC mandis, create a level-playing field with proposed private markets, and provide a provision for approaching higher courts for dispute resolution, while asserting that procurement at minimum support price (MSP) will continue.

But the protesting farmer unions' leaders are insisting that the laws must be scrapped.

On December 7, a group of 20 progressive farmers from Haryana submitted to the government a memorandum demanding that the government consider amendments as suggested by the protesting farmers unions but not repeal them.

Tomar had told these progressive farmers backing these legislations that these measures will benefit the peasantry and the agriculture sector and that the government will handle such agitations.