Union ministers meet farmer groups to break deadlock over agri laws


The ministers join farm leaders to share ”langar” food arranged by protesting farmers.

The sixth round of talks between the protesting farmer unions and three Central ministers got underway here Wednesday afternoon to break the over one-month-long deadlock on the recent agri laws.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railways, Commerce and Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, who is an MP from Punjab, are holding the talks with the representatives of 41 farmer unions at the Vigyan Bhawan here.

The ministers also joined farm leaders to share ”langar” food arranged by protesting farmers.

Farmer leaders said that the talks were continuing and they were going ”agenda wise”.

During the last few meetings, farmer leaders have been arranging their own lunch, snacks and beverages while refusing to have the food organised by the government.

At one such meeting, farmer leaders had even invited the ministers to langar at their protest site on Singhu border.

The sixth round of talks between the two sides are being held after a considerable gap. The fifth round of talks was held on December 5.

The protesting farmer unions are sticking to their hardline position that the discussions will only be on the modalities of repealing the three new agri laws and giving a legal guarantee on the MSP among other issues.

On Monday, the Centre invited the unions for this round of talks on December 30 on all relevant issues to find a “logical solution” with “open mind” to the prolonged impasse over the three new agri laws that were enacted in September.

But in its letter on Tuesday, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella organisation which represents the farmer unions, said the modalities for repealing the three contentious laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price (MSP) must be part of the agenda.

The sixth round of talks was originally scheduled for December 9 but it was called off after an informal meeting of Home Minister Amit Shah with some union leaders failed to reach any breakthrough.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, are protesting at various borders of the national capital for more than a month against these three new laws.

The government has presented these laws as major agriculture reforms aimed at helping farmers and increasing their income, but the protesting unions fear that the new legislations have left them at the mercy of big corporates by “weakening” the MSP and mandi systems.

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