- No major progress in eighth round of talks till now
- If talks fail, farmers will go ahead with the tractor rally on January 26
- Farmers want states to bring in their own separate laws
An eighth round of talks between the centre and farmer leaders protesting the agriculture laws was held on Friday but it failed to break a months-long deadlock between the parties, who remain divided on two key issues - the repeal of the laws and a legal guarantee for MSP.
Sources said the centre (represented by Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal) continues to insist the laws will benefit farmers. The farmers continue to demand the centre roll them back and allow state governments to enact their own rules.
The next round of talks will take place on January 15, less than two weeks before the farmers take out a tractor rally - on Republic Day - to enter Delhi.
"... no decision could be made. The centre urged farmer unions (to) give an option other than repealing... but no option was presented so the meeting concluded," Mr Tomar, who met Home Minister Amit Shah before the talks, told reporters after the meeting.
The protesting farmers have given no indication of backing down, or even agreeing to the centre's request that the thousands camped around Delhi for several weeks return home.
"Our ghar wapsi (homecoming) can happen only if you do law wapsi (recall the laws)," news agency PTI quoted one farmer leader at Friday's meeting.
"It seems you (the centre) do not want to resolve the issue as talks have been happening for so many days. In that case, please give us a clear answer and we will go," another said, underlining the farmers' growing impatience with stagnant talks.
That impatience was further highlighted after placards appeared at the meeting, reading: "We will (succeed in repealing the laws) or die".
The previous rounds of talks finished on a similar note. After a meeting last month the farmers said the centre had indicated it would not repeal the laws, citing the laborious process required.
After Friday's talks one farmer leader told NDTV the centre was looking to "sweet talk" them. '
"The centre is adamant it won't repeal the laws... talks are stuck. It doesn't look like there will be any results. It is possible that they will sweet talk us...," Sarvar Singh Pandhera said.
The stalemate has members from either side accusing the other of drawing out the talks.
On Thursday Punjab BJP leader Surjit Kumar Jyani hit out at "stubborn" farmers. "I think farmer unions don't want a solution. I think their plan is something else," he told news agency ANI.
Tens of thousands of farmers across the country are protesting against three agriculture laws that the centre says will reform the sector.
The centre says these laws will help farmers eliminate middlemen and sell at markets and prices of their choice. The farmers fear it will rob them of MSPs (minimum support price) and, by dismantling government-controlled mandis, or wholesale markers, leave them at the mercy of the corporates.
The centre's offer of a committee to mediate disputes has been rejected, as has their offer of a written (as opposed to the farmers' demand of a legal) guarantee for MSP.
With input from ANI, PTI