New Delhi: Amid the ongoing farmers' protest, the eighth round of dialogue between the government and 41 farm union representatives ended here on Friday (January 8), once again on an inconclusive note. The next round of talks will be held on January 15.
According to reports, the government has informed the farmers' unions that it cannot and will not repeal the farm laws. On the other hand, the farmers, too, are adamant about their demands and have said that nothing short of a complete repeal of the contentious agricultural legislations will be acceptable.
After the meting, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Sigh Tomar said, "Discussion on the laws was taken up but no decision could be made. The government urged that if farmer unions give an option other than repealing, we'll consider it. But no option could be presented, so the meeting was concluded and it was decided to hold the next meeting on 15th January."
"Our ghar wapsi can happen only if you do 'law wapsi'," a farmer leader was, in the meanwhile, quoted as saying by news agency PTI during the meeting.
The meeting began at Vigyan Bhawan in the presence of Agriculture Minister Narendra Sigh Tomar, Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce and Industries Som Parkash from the government's side. Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal and other Ministry officials also attended the meeting.
Krantikari Kisan Union President (Punjab) Darshan Pal, Bharatiya Kisan Union's Jagjeet Singh Dalewal and Balbir Singh Rajewal, Jamhuri Kishan Sabha Punjab General Secretary Kulwant Singh, and Bharatiya Kisan Union (Uttar Pradesh) President Rakesh Tikait were among the 41 farm union leaders who participated in the meeting.
The Union Ministers reportedly told the farmers' leaders that the agricultural legislations are for the benefit of the millions of farmers all across India, and not just for the peasants of Punjab and Haryana.
On the other hand, the farmers have countered this argument by saying that every state should be left to bring their own respective legislations on agricultural matters, citing various Supreme Court orders that have declared farming as a state subject.
So far there is no official assurance from both sides if they will choose another way to end the impasse and they are still sticking to their points. The situation is still in the classic "unstoppable force meets immovable object" scenario.
It is to be noted that both sides are, in fact, hoping for a successful conversation to yield results and end the over one-and-a-half-month deadlock, especially so after seven rounds of inconclusive talks.
The government began the talks signalling an outcome of positive results from the meeting while the farmers threatened to intensify the stir if their demand to repeal three contentious farm laws is not fulfilled.
Farmer leader Gurbaksa Singh Barnala said that the farmers will intensify the stir and enter Delhi on Republic Day if their demands are not met. "There is no way forward but to repeal the three laws."
All India Kisan Sabha General Secretary Hannan Mollah said, "There was a heated discussion, we said we don't want anything other than a complete repeal of the laws. We won't go to any Court, this (repeal) will either be done or we'll continue to fight. Our parade on 26th January will go on as planned."
Union Ministers Tomar and Goyal had met senior BJP leader and Home Minister Amit Shah before the fresh round of talks began, expressing the hope that a "resolution will come out in the meeting".
Today's meeting agenda, according to the government, included "modalities for the repeal of the three Central farm acts and mechanisms to be adopted to make remunerative MSP (Minimum Support Price) recommended by the National Farmers' Commission into a legally guaranteed entitlement for all farmers and all agricultural commodities".
(With inputs from agencies)