The sixth round of talks between the government and the farmers demanding repeal of the Centre’s new farm laws will be held at 2 pm today. The government is hoping for a breakthrough to resolve the protests that have been raging at the borders of Delhi since November-end. But with both sides taking a hard line, the farmers are not sure of a resolution anytime soon.
“Five rounds of talks between farmers and the government have taken place. We don’t think we will reach a solution even today. The three farm laws should be repealed,” Sukhwinder Singh Sabra of Punjab’s Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Union minister Som Prakash — who has been part of the government’s three-member team for negotiations with the farmers — said, “Today’s meeting with farmers will be decisive”.
“We want them to celebrate New Year at their homes, with their family and we are going into the meeting with an open heart and mind. The government will try to resolve the issue so that people can go back to their homes,” Mr Prakash was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
“We will discuss every issue including Minimum Support Price. I can say that we are open to talks with an open heart. They too should come with an open mind. The agitation will definitely end if they do that,” the minister added.
The farmers have reiterated that they will accept nothing less than a repeal of the contentious farm laws, which they say leaves them open to exploitation by corporates. They have turned down the government’s offer to amend the laws, a stance that led to the Centre’s bitter complaints to the Supreme Court.
“The government was and is ready for negotiations,” the Centre had told the top court earlier this month as it heard a batch of petitions on the protest. “The difficulty is the farmers’ ‘yes or no’ approach. Different ministers talked to them, but they turned their chairs back and did not talk,” the Centre had said.
The court had ordered that a special committee be formed, insisting that the Centre’s negotiations have failed. “Your negotiation will again fail as they won’t agree,” the court had said, seeking names or farmer organizations party to the issue.
Agriculture minister Narendra Tomar — who will be part of today’s meeting along with cabinet colleague Piyush Goyal — had earlier said that the government was hoping to end the impasse before the end of the year. The two ministers met Union Home Minister AmIt Shah on Wednesday as today’s meeting was announced.