WITH the farmer unions relenting in their stand allowing train services to resume in Punjab, the Centre has called them for a second round of minister-level talks on December 3. This was one of the conditions laid by the farmer leaders while calling off their ‘rail roko’ agitation.
A top official told The Indian Express, “On behalf of the Central Government, Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey has invited the representatives of 32 farm organisations for the next round of talks.” Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Piyush Goyal will be present at the meeting.
While the farmers gave up their demand that they would only allow goods trains and not passenger, as a two-month blockade threatened essential supplies, they have threatened to go ahead with their plans to “lay siege” to Delhi on November 26 and 27.
Officials from the Food and Agriculture Departments of the Punjab government have also been invited for the talks. The Centre will be represented by Tomar, the Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, and Goyal, who has been assigned additional charge of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution apart from Railways.
Farmers want the government to repeal the new agriculture laws which, they claim, will lead to dismantling of the MSP regime, a charge denied by the Centre.
The first round of talks, held between Tomar, Goyal and the farmer leaders in Delhi on November 13, had remained inconclusive with both sides refusing to budge from their respective stands.
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