Farm laws: Centre invites 40 unions for talks on Dec 30

Farmers' stir: Centre invites 40 unions for next round of talks on Dec 30

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

Farmers beat utensils during a protest against the central government's recent agricultural reforms as India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation on the monthly radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat', in Ghazipur along the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh state border, on December 27, 2020. Credit: AFP Photo

Centre does not appear to be in a hurry to meet agitating farmers as it set talks for Wednesday, a day later than what was suggested by the protesters even as indicated that there would be no changes in the new farm sector laws.

Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal responded to the letter written by the agitating farmer unions on Saturday and invited them for talks on December 30 at 2:00 p.m.

“You had conveyed to us that farmers’ unions were ready for talks with an open mind and will always be. The government is also open and clear-minded on the discussion on emergent issues and finding well-argued solutions,” Agarwal said in the letter to leaders of 40 farmer unions.

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Even as it expressed readiness for talks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the 100th Kisan rail, transporting fruits and vegetables from Sangola in Maharashtra to Shalimar in West Bengal. He said that the growing demand for Kisan Rail was an indication that farmers were ready to embrace new possibilities.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the Modi government had implemented farm sector reforms that UPA had set out to unleash, but could not do so because of the pressure and influence.

Tomar, who received letters of support for farm reforms from 25 farmers’ organisations, expressed confidence that he would be able to explain the new laws to the agitating farmers as well.

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The 40 farmer organisations, who along with others, have been camping at Delhi’s borders held a late evening meeting and announced that they would attend the meeting called by the Centre on Wednesday.

At the same time, the farmers accused the government of indulging in doublespeak and showing unwillingness in resolving the issues raised by the farmers.

“Government claims to have an open mind, but is adamant on laws remaining,” the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee said in a statement.

The agitating farmers also claimed that they were receiving greater support and protest rallies were planned in Thanjavur and Patna on Tuesday and Hyderabad and Imphal on Wednesday.