Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 1
The much-anticipated third round of talks between farmer outfits, including 32 from Punjab, and Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Piyush Goyal and Som Parkash ended inconclusively today with farmer leaders rejecting the Centre’s proposal to constitute a five-member committee to look into their grievances.
The unions told the government that “such panels had failed to yield the desired results in the past” and “that the time for committees was over as they now only wanted concrete action”.
A government statement said Agriculture Minister Tomar had proposed the setting up of the expert committee “to look into the issues of farmers so as to resolve them with mutual consent”. “The union representatives said they will attend the further round of discussions with the government to resolve the matter amicably,” the statement said.
Various issues related to “farm Acts were discussed in a cordial atmosphere,” officials said. However, Punjab unions said they rejected the offer of tea during the talks and instead asked the ministers to join them for ‘kheer’ and ‘langar’ at the border. “We just want the black laws to be rolled back,” they told Tomar, who asked farmer leaders to “identify specific issues related to farm reform Acts and share them with the government for consideration”. These issues will be discussed during the fourth round of meeting to be held on December 3. “The Government of India is always committed to protecting the interests of the farmers and is always open for discussions for their welfare,” Tomar said.
Following the three-hour meeting, farmer leaders said the agitation at Delhi borders would continue. Representatives from UP and other states are also demanding an equal footing in consultations.
Union leaders claimed Tomar told them that “statutes could have deficiencies and that the government is willing to look into objections and deficiencies pointed out by the unions and will consider changing the same”.
While farmers are willing to settle for nothing but a complete rollback of five laws (the three “black” laws, the newly enacted ordinance on air quality management in Delhi-NCR and the electricity Bill 2020), the government too is firm on its stance. Farmer leaders say the laws are “more than 90 per cent wrong”. “If the government wants new laws, it will have to first consult farmers. These are like a death sentence for the farmers and we will not allow corporates in Punjab.”
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