10th Round of Farmers-Centre Talks Deferred by a Day as SC-appointed Panel Readies to Hold 1st Meeting Today

The tenth round of talks between the government and representatives of protesting farmers on controversial new farm laws was on Monday pushed back by a day to January 20, with the Centre saying both sides want to resolve the stalemate at the earliest but it was getting delayed due to involvement of people of other ideologies. Asserting that the new farm laws are in the interest of the farming community, the government said obstacles do come whenever good things or measures are taken and it is taking longer to resolve the issue as farmers’ leaders want a solution their own way.

“The government’s ministerial meeting with farmers unions will be held on January 20 at 2 pm at Vigyan Bhawan, instead of January 19,” the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement on Monday. Meanwhile, a Supreme Court-appointed panel to resolve the crisis is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Tuesday.

The previous rounds of talks between the government and farmers have failed to reach any concrete results, as protesting unions have stuck to their main demand for repealing the new laws, but the government has refused to do so. Speaking to PTI, Minister of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala said: “It is different when farmers talk to us directly. When leaders get involved, then it becomes difficult. There could have been early solution had the discussions were held with farmers directly.” Since people of different ideologies have entered into the protest, they want a solution in their own way, he said.

“Both sides want a solution, but they have different points of view and hence it is taking more time. But a definite solution will emerge,” he noted. Separately, the Supreme Court told the Centre on Monday that the proposed tractor rally on the Republic Day by protesting farmers is a “law and order” matter and Delhi Police is the first authority to decide who should be allowed to enter the national capital.

Thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh, are protesting for nearly two-months at various Delhi borders against the three farm laws enacted by the central government in September 2020. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, while addressing a virtual event, reiterated that the three farm laws will be beneficial for farmers.

“These laws were expected earlier but the previous government could not implement because of pressure. It was the Modi government that took a bold step and brought these laws passed in Parliament… Whenever a good thing happens, there are obstacles,” Tomar said. On eve of the tenth round of meeting, a delegation of farmers representing over 270 farmer producer organizations from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Odisha met Rupala and appealed not to repeal the laws.

Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhury was also present in the meeting. “We support the new laws. We don’t want the government to repeal them,” Narendra Tomar of Gwalior-based Chambal Agro FPO said after the meeting.

SC-appointed Panel’s Meet

The Supreme Court-appointed committee on the three new farm laws is scheduled to hold its first meeting with members on Tuesday at Pusa campus in New Delhi, its member Anil Ghanwat said.

“We are going to meet tomorrow (January 18). Only members will meet to discuss the terms of reference and decide the future course of action,” Ghanwat, president of Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra), told PTI before boarding a flight to Delhi.

The Supreme Court had on January 11 stayed the implementation of the three laws, against which farmers are protesting at Delhi borders for over 50 days now, till further orders and appointed a four-member panel to resolve the impasse. Bhartiya Kisan Union President Bhupinder Singh Mann, however, recused himself from the committee last week.

Apart from Ghanwat, agri-economists Ashok Gulati and Pramod Kumar Joshi are the other members of the panel. The panel will hear views of farmers across the country, both who support and oppose the new farm laws, and submit a report within two months to the apex court.

(With PTI inputs)

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