This Article is From Jan 15, 2021

"120% Fail" Says Farmer Leader After 9th Round Of Talks With Centre

The ninth round of centre-farmer talks ended on Friday with no progress towards ending the stalemate. Next round of talks on January 19, the day the Supreme Court-appointed panel was likely to start consulting stakeholders over the three contentious farm laws.

The ninth round of centre-farmers talks is underway in Delhi's Vigyan Bhawan.

New Delhi:

The ninth round of discussion between farmers demanding repeal of the three agriculture laws and the centre -- held days after the Supreme Court stayed their enactment "until further orders" -- ended today with no progress towards ending the stalemate.

"It was a 120 per cent failure. We suggested that the government remove the changes made to the Essential Commodities Act instead of scrapping it altogether. But the Agriculture Minister has not said anything on this," farmer leader Dr Darshanpal said.

The next round of talks would be held on January 19, the day the court-appointed committee was likely to start consulting stakeholders to end the impasse.

To increase pressure on the government, the farmer unions have decided to go ahead and intensify their stir with a tractor rally on January 26. "Our proposed Tractor rally will be held, will be held, will be held," Dr Darshanpal added.

Leaders of the 40 farmers' unions negotiating with the centre also said they want continued direct communication with the centre, "not brokers". They maintain they will not appear before the panel since the members were already in "favour of the farm laws".

The government has agreed to engage directly with farmers, but said that if they want they can go to the court-appointed committee as well.

"The government and farmers should continue looking for solutions, formally and informally. Whatever we can agree on during these talks will decide the future course of action. The government is committed to follow the Supreme Court's order," Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said.

By agreeing to continue talks even after the top court's decision to appoint a committee, it appears that negotiations may be held on two separate tracks simultaneously.

During Friday's meeting farmer leaders also raised the issue of continued raids by central agencies on those supporting their movement logistically, and use of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act against them.

The centre, which had earlier blamed the raids on the state government, has said it will look into the issue, sources said.

Meanwhile, some farmers have also started demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention to resolve the talks that are being led by the Agriculture Minister, Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, who is an MP from Punjab.

On January 12, the country's top court had put the three contentious laws on hold and formed a panel noting that "no solution was in sight".

Tens of thousands of farmers have been camping around Delhi since November 26 demanding repeal of three farm laws saying they would leave them vulnerable to exploitation. The centre has maintained the laws would open new markets and increase their income by eliminating middlemen.