The government is holding talks with farmers "with full sensitivity", Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said today as he wished farmers on Kisan Diwas or Farmers' Day, that marks the birth anniversary of Chaudhary Charan Singh, the fifth Prime Minister of India. The day coincides with the 28th straight day of protests by farmer groups against the controversial new farm laws.
"On Farmers' Day, I greet all the annadaatas (farmers) of the country. They have provided the country with food security. Some farmers are agitating against farm laws. The government is holding talks with them with full sensitivity. I hope that they'll end their agitation soon," Mr Singh tweeted in Hindi.
Mr Singh said Chaudhary Charan Singh wanted farmers' income to grow, their crops to get profitable price and their dignity to be protected. "Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, inspired by him, has taken steps in farmers' interests. He will not let any harm be come to farmers," the minister said.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar will meet with farmer groups today as the government tries drumming support for the farm laws. The farmer NGOs are expected to lend a "conditional support" to the farm laws, sources said.
"The government is completely prepared for talks with farmers. Hope farmer organisations give a date for the talks at the earliest. I am hopeful that we will move towards a resolution. I appeal to farmers to understand the thought behind the farm reforms. The government is ready to discuss farmers' issues with an open mind. I believe that there will be dialogue and a resolution will emerge," the minister told reporters today.
On Tuesday, protesting farmers said that a decision on the centre's offer for fresh talks has been deferred to today, even as they stuck to their demand to repeal the three farm laws.
Addressing a press conference at Delhi's Singhu border, farmer leader Kulwant Singh Sandhu said that 32 farmer unions from Punjab held a meeting and discussed the next course of action.
Thousands of farmers, who have braved water cannons, tear gas and police barricades, began their protest last month against the farm laws, aimed at doing away with middlemen and allowing them to sell produce anywhere in the country. Farmers say the laws will deprive them of the minimum prices fixed by the government and leave them at the mercy of corporates.
The sixth round of talks on December 9 was cancelled following a deadlock with the farmer unions refusing to budge from their demand for repealing the three laws.