The sixth round of negotiations between farmers and the government -- described as a decisive meeting -- saw both sides share a table in more ways than one. During the lunch break, in a departure from norm, Union ministers Narendra Tomar and Piyush Goyal were spotted joining the farmers for lunch.
Visuals from inside Vigyan Bhavan, where the talks are being held, showed the two ministers being served the langar, community meals that the farmers bring from outside. The fare was simple -- rice and rotis with lentils and vegetables.
So far, at every round of meetings that fell through, the farmers have refused to partake of the lunch offered by the government, opting for the langar brought in by a waiting van.
"We are not accepting food or tea offered by the government," a farmer leader said during the last meeting held in November. "They offered us food, we denied and are having our langar, which we have brought with us," another farmer had said.
The farmer representatives had asked the participating ministers to join them for lunch, but the ministers had declined.
The government has been hoping for a breakthrough in this round that would help to end the protests that have been raging at the borders of Delhi since the end of November. Ahead of the meeting, Union minister Som Prakash, who is part of the three-member team conducting the negotiations, said it would be "decisive" and the government wants the farmers to "celebrate New Year at their homes".
The farmers, described as "annadaata" by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have accused the government of benefiting corporates at their expense. Over the last week, protesters have put out of action hundreds of cellphone towers of Reliance Jio, whose owner Mukesh Ambani is seen as one of the major beneficiaries of the farm laws.
The farmers have reiterated that they will accept nothing less than a repeal of the contentious farm laws, turning down the government's oral and written offers to amend the laws. They also insist on a law that guarantees the Minimum Support Price, for which the government is only ready to give a written assurance.
On Wednesday, after today's talks were announced, Mr Tomar and Mr Goyal held a meeting with Amit Shah. Mr Shah had held a meeting with the farmers last month, which had also remained inconclusive.