Protesting farmers reject Centre’s proposal to form panel; talks to continue tomorrow

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 01, 2020 Published on December 01, 2020

Only farmer groups from Punjab get the invitation; government says it’s continuation of talks held early

The talks between the government and protesting farmers remained inconclusive on Tuesday with the latter outright rejecting the Centre's offer to constitute a committee to look into the thorny issues in the recently enacted farm laws. But both the sides agreed to continue with the talks on Thursday.

“The time to constitute a committee has long gone. What was the government doing when we were protesting for the last two months,” queried a farmer leader from Punjab while addressing reporters after a three-hour meeting which was attended by Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Prakash, apart from Agriculture Ministry officials.

The Ministers suggested the formation of a five-member committee, including a few farmer leaders, to look into the laws, but the farmers vetoed it.

The meeting was attended by 32 farmer leaders from Punjab, including Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) President Balbir Singh Rajewal and Bharatiya Kisan Union (Sindhpur) President Jagjit Singh Dhalewal, and three leaders of national farmer organisations. The government, which earlier extended an invitation only to leaders of Punjab farmer groups, was forced to invite national level organisations for the talks after the Punjab leaders refused to come forward. They said the problem was not exclusively of Punjab farmers, and those from other regions, too, should be represented at the meeting.

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After the meeting, Tomar said the farmer leaders had rejected the idea of constituting a committee but the talks would now continue on Thursday. Some farmer leaders said the government has agreed to hold meetings on a daily basis from Thursday.

Bone of contention

Farmers from a number of States, particularly Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, have been camping at key entry points to Delhi since last Thursday, demanding the scrapping of the three recently enacted farm Acts. They have also opposed the draft Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020, which will curb subsidies on power for farm use.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Ghelot, in a statement issued in Jaipur, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to spearhead the talks.

Meanwhile, the All India Bank Employees Association and All India Agricultural Workers Union extended support to the farmers’ protest and urged the government to come forward to address their demands.

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Published on December 01, 2020
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