The ninth round of talks between the government and protesting farmer unions ended without any major conclusion on Friday. The meeting which continued for over five hours failed to break the deadlock over the three farm laws. Both the sides will now meet again on January 19. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railways, Commerce and Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, who is an MP from Punjab, were present during the meeting with the representatives of around 40 farmer unions which was held at the Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the government is ready to discuss all issues with the farmers with an open mind. "The Centre welcomes the decision of the Supreme Court. We will present our views before the committee. The government is ready to remove all doubts that the farmers have concerning the three farm laws. We are hopeful of a resolution soon. The government is concerned about the farmers protesting in this harsh winter," Tomar said.
"Our demands of repealing of the three farm laws and MSP guarantee remain. We will not go to the Committee constituted by the Supreme Court. We'll talk to Central Government only," Rakesh Tikait, BKU spokesperson, told reporters after the meeting.
At today's meeting, the government told farmer leaders that it is ready to amend the laws, but the unions rejected it. Tomar then said that the Supreme Court has already stayed the implementation of the law and the government is willing to discuss the contentious points, if any, in the laws.
Earlier on Thursday, Tomar had said that the government is hopeful of positive discussions, adding that the Centre is ready to hold talks with farmer leaders with an open mind.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court had 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 on Thursday recused himself from the committee appointed by the apex court.
Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra) president Anil Ghanwat, International Food Policy Research Institute's Pramod Kumar Joshi and agriculture economist Ashok Gulati are the other three members on the panel.
On January 8, the eighth round of meeting remained inconclusive as the Centre ruled out repealing the three contentious laws claiming nationwide support for the reforms. However, farmer leaders had said that they were ready to fight till death and their 'ghar waapsi' would happen only after 'law waapsi'.
Though talks till now have remained inconclusive, in the sixth round held on December 30 last year some common ground was reached on two demands -- decriminalisation of stubble-burning and continuation of power subsidies.
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at several Delhi border points, demanding a complete repeal of the three farm laws and legal guarantee of minimum support price for their crops. They have expressed their apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of the MSP and do away with the "mandi" (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. Enacted in September last year, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.