Centre gives in, willing to hold ‘unqualified’ talks with farmers

Sources say Amit Shah has conveyed his willingness to hold unconditional talks with farmers

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 30

The BJP-led central government has conveyed its willingness to hold unconditional talks with farmers, sources in the party said on Monday--- a development that comes a day after farmers rejected the Centre’s qualified offer to advance talks.

Some leaders from farmers' unions also confirmed the development.

The Centre’s willingness to soften its stand comes in the wake of an ongoing meeting that Home Minister Amit Shah’s holding with senior leaders of his party at his residence. Among the several BJP leaders present at the meeting is Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar.


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Both farmers and the central government are holding a series of internal strategic talks, sources said. 

Some leaders from farmers’ unions were in touch with BJP leaders, sources said, and they had agreed to more talks with the central government. This assent to hold more parleys comes after a promise from Shah to hold unconditional talks with farmers. 

They have also been allowed to continue their protest at their current location on Delhi's borders. Sources said they could be invited for talks as soon as Tuesday.

The development comes as farmers continued to hold protests at Delhi's borders for the fourth day over the controversial agriculture reforms that Parliament had passed in September.

Men and women cook at a farmers' protest on Monday.
Tribune photo: Mukesh Tandon

Farmers mainly from Punjab have been holding protests spearheaded by 32 farmers’ unions since, and earlier this month, announced a march to Delhi called ‘Delhi Chalo’. Amit Shah had issued a statement two days ago that his government was scheduled to hold talks with farmers on December 3, but that those talks could be advanced if protesters cleared roads and moved to a site the Centre had designated for them - a ground at Delhi’s Burari.

Protesters, however, rejected the offer, opting to stay put and asking for unconditional talks.

The central government says that the laws are meant for farmers’ welfare---a view that farmers contend. Farmers fear that the laws will weaken the APMC system, leaving them vulnerable to corporate interests.  

A scene at the farmers' protest on Monday.
Tribune photo: Mukesh Tandon

'You are being misled'

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meanwhile repeated once again that the laws would benefit farmers.

As protests refused to die down, Modi repeated his government’s stand: that the laws were aimed at farmers’ welfare and would help augment their income. He also claimed that the farmers were being “mislead”---a claim several leaders of the BJP---including the prime minister himself---have repeatedly made in the past, much to protesters’ criticism.  

Also read: Concrete barriers come up at Delhi-Ghaziabad border as more farmers join protest

“If some farmers are feeling doubtful of the government's intentions it is because of lies fed to them through decades,” he claimed in a series of tweets on Monday.

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