As thousands of farmers continue to agitate against the laws enacted by the government earlier this year, farm union leaders and government will meet for the fifth round of talks on Saturday to bring a solution to the deadlock over the new legislation. Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, food minister Piyush Goyal and minister of state for commerce and industry Som Parkash, who will be present at the meeting, will deliberate on the points that farmer leaders had raised and offer possible solutions.
Here’s the Centre-farmers deadlock explained in 10 points
1. Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have gathered in and around Delhi to protest against the three farm laws – the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020- enacted by the Centre during the monsoon session of Parliament earlier this year.
2. The protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws are “anti-farmer”, and would pave the way for the dismantling of the MSP system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations.
3. The government, however, maintains that new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.
4. During the fourth round of discussions on Thursday, the government said that it talked about some amendments to the controversial farm laws. Union agriculture minister Tomar assured 40 farmer union leaders that the government has no ego and it was discussing the issues raised by farmers with an open mind. “The government will discuss points that emerged at the meeting on Friday and hopes that talks will move towards finality when the next round of discussions are held on Saturday,” he added.
5. Tomar also told farmer union leaders that government is open to considering ways to strengthen APMC mandis, create a level-playing field with proposed private markets, and provide a provision for approaching higher courts for dispute resolution while asserting that procurement at minimum support price (MSP) will continue.
6. The farmer leaders, however, continued to demand that the three “hastily-passed” farm laws be repealed. They said that the legislation with several loopholes and deficiencies cannot be amended.
7. As the farmers’ protest enters day 9, Delhi’s border points remain choked with thousands of farmers from Haryana, Punjab, and other states holding demonstrations.
8. Meanwhile, Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait has threatened that the farmers’ agitation would intensify if the government fails to meet the demands. “The government and the farmers did not reach any decision during the meeting held on Thursday. The government wants to make amendments to the three laws, but we want the laws to be completely repealed. If the government does not agree to our demands, we will continue to protest. We are looking to find out what happens in Saturday’s meeting,” Tikait said.
9. The protesting farmers have called for a nationwide strike, or Bharat Bandh, on December 8 where they said they will block all toll plazas and roads leading to the national capital if their demands are not met
10. All eyes are now on Saturday’s meeting which is likely to decide whether farmer leaders will accept solutions offered by the government and end the protest or go ahead with their Bharat Bandh.