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Protesting farmers agree to govt proposal for talks on December 30

Protesting farmer unions Monday agreed "in-principle" to a government proposal of holding the next round of talks on the new agricultural laws on December 30

Farmers during their sit-in protest against the Centres farm reform laws, near Ghazipur border in New Delhi, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. (PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist)

The government's latest invite followed a proposal made by unions last week to hold the talks on Tuesday, December 29

Agencies New Delhi
Protesting farmer unions on Monday agreed “in-principle” to a government proposal for holding the next round of talks on the new agricultural laws on December 30, but insisted the agenda of the meeting should include discussing modalities for repealing the three legislations.  The farmers’ acceptance of the proposal came hours after the Centre sent them a letter suggesting December 30 as the date for the dialogue, against December 29 the protesting unions wanted.
This comes amid Prime Minister Narendra Modi continuing to support the farm laws, saying that the reforms are meant to better their lives.
Responding to a letter sent by the protesting farmer unions last week — expressing their willingness to hold talks — the Centre said just like the protesting farmers, it is also committed to finding a logical solution to all relevant issues. The protesting farmer unions had, last week, proposed to the Centre to hold talks on Tuesday.
The agenda included modalities for repeal of the three farm laws enacted in September, a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP), concrete steps on draft electricity Act and NCR’s pollution ordinance.
Taking note of the unions’ offer to resume talks, agriculture secretary Sanjay Aggarwal said that a detailed discussion will take place on the issues.
However, the government letter did not make any specific reference to a key condition proposed by the unions seeking talks on modalities for repeal of the Acts.
“The letter of the government indicates that it is being clever with words and not willing to discuss the agenda proposed by farmer organisations; this exposes its double-speak,” said the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, one of the groups participating in the protest.
So far, five rounds of formal talks held between the Centre and 40 protesting farmer unions remained inconclusive. 
The last round of talks was held on December 5. The sixth round of talks, originally scheduled for December 9, was called off a day after an informal meeting of home minister Amit Shah with some union leaders failed to reach any breakthrough. The government had, however, followed up Shah’s meeting with a draft proposal sent to the unions in which it had suggested 7-8 amendments to the new laws and written assurance on the MSP procurement system. In a December 26 letter, farmer unions gave December 29 as date for resumption of talks. They made it clear that the modalities for repeal of the three farm laws and guarantee for MSP should be part of the agenda.
The date given by the Centre for the talks is the day when unions will hold a tractor march from Singhu border and Tikri border to the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal highway. It’s been over a month now since thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab, Haryana, and parts of Uttar Pradesh, are camping at Delhi borders, seeking repeal of the three laws.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while flagging off the 100th ‘Kisan Rail’, asserted his government has undertaken historic reforms in the farm sector to boost agriculture and strengthen farmers.
He said it would continue to do so with full force and dedication. Modi said his government’s policies are clear and intentions transparent in reforming the agriculture sector.
NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said false narratives about the farm laws are doing significant harm to the interests of farmers as well as the economy in general. He expressed disappointment at some economists changing their stance on the new legislations.

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First Published: Dec 28 2020 | 8:32 PM IST

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