The tenth round of talks between the Centre and farmers at Delhi's Vigyan Bhawan has failed to break the ongoing impasse concerning the new agriculture reforms. However, the government's intent to suspend the implementation of farm laws for one year offers some hope as the farmer leaders are yet to convey their decision in the next meeting. The eleventh round of discussions is scheduled for January 22 at 12 noon.
During the meeting, the government said it is ready to suspend the implementation of farm laws for one year, if needed. Meanwhile, farmers said that they will deliberate upon the proposal on Thursday and communicate the decision on Friday.
"Govt said that it is ready to file an affidavit in the court to the effect that it would put the implementation of the laws on hold for one and half a year. They also said that a committee would be formed on MSP and the laws & they would implement the recommendations of the committee. We'll hold a meeting tomorrow and take a decision on the proposal," Hannan Mollah, General Secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha said.
Union Agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar said the talks were heading in a positive direction. He said the government was wishing for a resolution Wednesday itself, on the occasion of Guru Gobind Singh's birth anniversary. Now the next meeting will be held on January 22 and I hope a solution will be found. "We have offered to postpone implementation of the farm laws for 1.5 years. I am happy to note that the farmers are ready to explore the offer."
The talks were earlier slated for Tuesday, but the Agriculture Ministry delayed it by a day due to some unavoidable reasons.
The previous nine rounds of formal talks between the Centre and 41 farmer unions have failed to yield any concrete results to end the long-running protest at Delhi's borders as the latter have stuck to their main demand of a complete repeal of the three acts. Besides being adamant on repealing the three Union farm laws, farmers are also demanding a legal guarantee for procurement of crops at the Minimum Support Price.
The government has, however, declined to repeal the laws and is insisting farmers to discuss the laws clause-wise. The government has said that it will amend the laws, if required.
Though the Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of these laws and set up an expert committee to resolve the issue, the Centre has kept open the channel of dialogue with the farmers' unions.
Ahead of the talks, Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar had expressed hope that farmers will discuss alternatives other than repeal of the laws.
"I am hopeful that farmers will discuss alternatives so that we can reach a solution," Tomar had said while making an appeal to the farmers not to go ahead with their proposed tractor rally on Republic Day in the national capital.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now demanding repeal of the three laws - the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.
Enacted in September 2020, the central government has presented these laws as major farm reforms aimed at increasing farmers' income, but the protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the minimum support price (MSP) and "mandi" (wholesale market) systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporations. The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and ruled out a repeal of the laws.