Breakthrough elusive as farmers demand 'concrete' offer

Breakthrough is elusive as farmers demand 'concrete' offer

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said dialogue was the only way to reach a resolution and the government was committed to reforms in the farm sector

 Farmers gather in large numbers at Singhu border during their 'Delhi Chalo' protest march against the Centre's new farm laws, in New Delhi, Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. Credit: PTI Photo

A breakthrough in the farmers’ protest remained elusive for another day on Wednesday with the protesting unions asking the Centre to come up with a “new, concrete” proposal for the resumption of talks.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said dialogue was the only way to reach a resolution and the government was committed to reforms in the farm sector while the protesters said they were willing to take two steps if the government took one step with an “open mind”.

The protesters’ reluctance to return to the negotiation tables came even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to interact with a section of farmers from six states, which is seen as another attempt to reach out to the farmers.

The unions had met during the day to decide on the next course of action after the government sent another missive on restarting the negotiations.

At a press conference, the farmer leaders said they are ready for dialogue but the government should not come to the table with “meaningless” amendments that they have already rejected.

Farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka said the Centre should “abandon its stubbornness” and create a conducive environment for talks while Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav said it should come up with a “concrete” offer in writing rather than sending “love letters”.

The Sankyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 40 agitating unions, alleged that the government is treating the farmers as its “political opponents”.

“Farmer unions are ready to hold talks with the government and that they are waiting for the government to come to the table with an open mind,” said Yadav, who is also a member of Morcha. “We urge you (government) not to repeat those meaningless amendments that we have already rejected but come up with a concrete proposal in writing that can become an agenda for fresh talks,” the Morcha said in its letter to Union Agriculture Joint Secretary Vivek Aggarwal.

Aggarwal had on Sunday asked protesting farmer leaders to specify their concerns over its earlier proposal of amendments in the laws and choose a convenient date for the next round of talks.