Farmers leaders during the 11th round of talks with the central government on new farm laws, at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021.
Farmers leaders during the 11th round of talks with the central government on new farm laws, at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021.
PTI

New Delhi: The 11th round of talks between the central government and the protesting farmers was conducted on Friday (January 22) to resolve the nearly-two-month long deadlock over the three contentious agri laws.

No dates have been fixed for the next meeting and the government has reportedly told the unions that all possible options have been given and it is now up to the protesting farmers to reconsider the proposal for putting the Acts on hold for 12-18 months.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told the farmer unions that the government is ready for another meeting only if the farmers want to discuss the proposal on suspending the laws.

He also thanked the unions for cooperation, saying that even though there are no problems in the laws, yet the government offered to suspend them as a mark of respect for the farmers.

Meanwhile, farmer unions have once again told the government that they insist on a complete repeal of the three contentious farm laws.

It has been reported that the 11th round of talks today may have lasted for nearly five hours, but two sides sat face to face for less than 30 minutes.

"We told the government that we will not agree to anything other than the repeal of the laws. But the minister asked us to discuss separately again and rethink on the matter and convey the decision," farmer leader Darshan Pal told PTI during a break after the first session.

BKU leader Rakesh Tikait said: "We conveyed our position clearly to the government that we want a repeal of the laws and not a suspension. The minister (Narendra Singh Tomar) asked us to reconsider our decision." Tikait said the farmer leaders are discussing internally on this issue.

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The eleventh round of talks between protesting farmer unions and three central ministers began at around 1 pm, but not much headway was visible in the first few hours of the meeting.

Some leaders had apprehensions that the movement will lose its momentum once the farmers go away from Delhi borders.

Along with Union Agriculture Minister Tomar, Railways, Commerce and Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash participated in the talks with representatives of 41 farmer unions at the Vigyan Bhawan here.

In the last round of meetings held on Wednesday, the government had offered to put on hold the three laws and set up a joint committee to find solutions. However, after internal consultations on Thursday, the farmer unions decided to reject the offer and stick to their two major demands -- the repeal of the three laws and a legal guarantee of the minimum support price (MSP).

In a full general body meeting on Thursday, Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella body of the protesting unions, rejected the government's proposal.

"A full repeal of three central farm Acts and enacting a legislation for remunerative MSP for all farmers were reiterated as the pending demands of the movement," the Morcha said in a statement.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now against the three laws.

Farmer groups have alleged these laws will end the mandi and MSP procurement systems and leave the farmers at the mercy of big corporates, even as the government has rejected these apprehensions as misplaced.

On January 11, the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the three laws till further orders and appointed a four-member panel to resolve the impasse.

Bhartiya Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann had recused himself from the committee appointed by the apex court.

Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra) president Anil Ghanwat and agriculture economists Pramod Kumar Joshi and Ashok Gulati, the other three members on the panel, started the consultation process with stakeholders on Thursday.

(With inputs from agencies)

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