Farmers, govt deadlock persists despite progress

Farmers' stir: Deadlock persists, Centre offers to set up committee for better implementation of MSP system

Union leaders, however, stick to their main demand of the repeal of three contentious farm laws

Farmers leaders during a meeting with Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar (unseen) and Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal (unseen) over the new farm laws. Credit: PTI Photo

The government and farmers on Wednesday claimed forward movement on the latter's concerns over the amendments to the electricity act and on decriminalising stubble burning, raising hopes of a resolution to the 35-day agitation on the borders of the national capital.

However, there was no immediate solution in sight on the main demands of the farmers for the repeal of the three laws and a legal guarantee for the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farm produce. The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 4.

The Center has made it clear to the farmers' unions that the three laws will not be repealed but expressed readiness to address specific concerns about the laws.

The agitating farmers were expected to consult lawyers on Friday over the possibility of accommodating their concerns without repealing the three laws.

"Issues related to stubble burning and electricity (Act) were sorted out in today's meeting," Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait told reporters after the sixth round of formal talks with Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Prakash.

Speaking to reporters after the five-hour meeting, Tomar said there was an agreement on decriminalizing stubble burning and retaining the subsidy on electricity given to farmers for irrigation whenever the related laws are amended.

Tomar also renewed the appeal to the farmers to allow elders and children among the protesters to return home given the cold wave conditions prevailing in the national capital.

"Talks were positive today. The government has been saying that we should end agitation and form a committee. But we did not listen to them. We won't take back our movement," Balkaran Singh Brar, president of the Punjab unit of All India Kisan Sabha, told reporters.

"There is still deadlock over the repeal of the three farm laws and a consensus could not be reached on MSP," Darshan Pal, president of the Krantikari Kisan Union, said.