The sixth round of negotiations between farmer leaders and the government concluded today in the national capital. The government and farm unions reached some common ground on Wednesday to resolve protesting farmers' concerns over rise in power tariff and penalties for stubble burning, but the two sides remained deadlocked over the main contentious issues of the repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee for MSP.
The next round of talks will resume on January 4 at 2 pm on the two outstanding issues.
After the nearly five-hour meeting, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said a consensus has been reached between the two sides on two out of the four issues. "Talks concluded on a positive note. Consensus on 2 out of 4 issues was reached between both sides. We have told them we are open for talks on their issues and problems," Mr Tomar said.
Mr Tomar said the union leaders kept insisting on repeal of the three farm laws, but the government side tried to explain them the benefits of the Acts and sought to know specific problems faced by the farmers.
There's still a deadlock over 3 farm laws being scrapped. We couldn't reach a consensus with them on MSP. On issue of stubble burning, govt agreed to exclude farmers from fine. On electricity issue, govt has taken back Power Bill 2020: Krantikari Kisan Union President Darshan Pal pic.twitter.com/lBqQgD53JD- ANI (@ANI) December 30, 2020
Considering the chilly weather in Delhi, I have requested the farmer leaders to send home the elderly, women and children. The next round of talks will be held on January 4: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar pic.twitter.com/VzRDEaFqsr- ANI (@ANI) December 30, 2020
Talks were positive today. Govt has been saying that we should end agitation & form a committee. But we didn't listen to them. We won't take back our movement. We won't form any committee. We'll discuss MSP in next meet: Balkaran Singh Brar, Punjab President,All India Kisan Sabha pic.twitter.com/kHtnvtCJyV- ANI (@ANI) December 30, 2020
The statement came a day after Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh directed the police to act strictly against vandalism of mobile towers, which has disrupted telecom services in the state. Read
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday took strong objection to remarks made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month concerning protest by farmers on farm laws and said no leader of a country should speak about India's internal affairs.
"First of all, I would like to say about the prime minister of any country that comment should not be made about India's internal affairs. India does not require any outside interference. We will sort out issues by ourselves. It is an internal matter of India. No country in the world has the right to comment on India's internal affairs," Rajnath Singh said in an exclusive interview with ANI. Read
Despite the centre repeatedly stating that it held multiple consultations with 'stakeholders' before passing the three controversial farm laws, a response to a RTI query filed by NDTV says the government "does not hold any record in this matter".
The Narendra Modi government has been criticised - by the opposition and farmer groups protesting the new laws - for not holding enough consultations before the bills were passed.
However, the government insists that it held several rounds of discussions with farmers. Read
Actor-politician Hema Malini on Tuesday pitched for the three new agri-marketing laws, saying the Narendra Modi government has now given farmers more options to sell their crops.
"Ever since the BJP-led government came to power, it is making every effort to increase the farmer''s income," Mathura''s BJP MP told reporters through a video link. Earlier, she also talked to officials here through video conferencing.
Chanting the "Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan" slogan, Hema Malini praised both soldiers and farmers.
She appealed to farmers and their unions to give up their protest over the new farm laws and sit across the table with the government to remove their apprehensions.
She asked them to have faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling him their well-wisher.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday strongly disapproved of remarks such as "Maoist" or "Khalistanis" in the context of protesting farmers and said "allegations should not be made by anyone" against them.
In an exclusive interview with ANI, the minister said that the farm laws have been made in the interest of farmers and the protesting farmers should see their implementation for two years.
Farmers protesting the agriculture laws fired a warning shot late Tuesday night ahead of a sixth round of talks with the centre tomorrow, saying that they would only discuss certain issues, including modalities of repealing all three laws and providing legal guarantees for MSP.
The nationwide protest by tens of thousands of irate farmers has rumbled on for over a month now, with their core demand - the scrapping of the laws and legal support for MSP - unchanged.
The centre has been equally obstinate - the laws will not be rolled back (but certain sections can be amended) and it will offer only a written (not legally binding) guarantee for MSP.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday demanding a waiver of the outstanding loans taken by farmers from nationalised and Bhoomi Vikas banks.
According to a Right To Information (RTI) reply, the Modi government, in its first tenure, had waived loans amounting to ₹ 7.95 lakh crore of industrialists, but had done nothing for the farmers, Ashok Gehlot said in a statement.
After Congress came to power in Rajasthan in 2018, loans of 20.56 lakh people worth ₹ 8,000 crore were waived off in the state, he added.