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Friday, February 26, 2021

Farmers’ Protest HIGHLIGHTS: Centre-farmers talks hit roadblock; unions threaten to intensify agitation

During their previous meeting on Thursday, farmer unions rejected the Centre's proposal to keep the laws in abeyance for 18 months, and reiterated their demand for repeal of the laws.

By: Express Web Desk | Chandigarh, New Delhi |
Updated: February 2, 2021 3:45:25 pm
farmer protest, farmers news, farmers news, farmers govt meeting, farmers govt talks, Government-farmers meeting, farmers protest in delhi, delhi farmers protest, farmers protest in delhi, farmers government meeting todayFarmers' protest Live Updates: At Singhu border in New Delhi on January 21, 2021.

The 11th round of discussion between the government and the protesting farmers’ unions hit a roadblock on Friday, with both the sides hardening their positions, and could not even reach a decision on the date of next meeting. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said there are no problems in the farm laws brought by the farmers but the Govt still offered to suspend them as a sign of respect for farmers. At the end of the 11th meeting to break the deadlock over the laws, Tomar thanked the protesting farmer unions for cooperation and told them that the govt is ready for another meeting if they want to discuss proposal on suspending laws.

Meanwhile, the farmer leaders alleged even as the meeting lasted for nearly five hours, the two sides sat face to face for less than 30 minutes. “The minister made us wait for three & a half hours. This is an insult to farmers. When he came, he asked us to consider the government’s proposal and said that he is ending the process of meetings,” said S S Pandher of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, adding that the agitation will continue peacefully.

In their 11th meeting over the three contentious farm laws, the farmer unions Friday told the government they want a complete repeal of the legislations while the Centre asked them to reconsider its proposal for putting the Acts on hold for 12-18 months. “We told the government that we will not agree to anything other than the repeal of the laws. But the minister asked us to discuss separately again and rethink on the matter and convey the decision,” farmer leader Darshan Pal told PTI during a break after the first session of their meet.

Live Blog

Preparations for tractor parade in New Delhi on Republic Day; Supreme Court-appointed expert committee receives suggestions on farm laws; and more. Follow the updates below:

22:22 (IST)22 Jan 2021
‘No resolution possible when sanctity of agitation lost’: Tomar after 11th round of talks with farmers

The 11th round of talks between the protesting farmers and the central government over the three farm laws hit yet another roadblock Friday, as the farmers refused to settle for anything less than a full repeal of the legislations while the Centre asked them to reconsider its proposal to put the Acts on hold for 12-18 months.

The meeting could not even reach a decision on the date for the next meeting, as the government hardened its position, saying it is ready to meet again once the 41 union leaders agree to discuss the suspension proposal. Read more

21:20 (IST)22 Jan 2021
Farmers' tractor rally to go ahead as planned on Republic Day: Union leaders

Protesting farmer leaders Friday said their proposed tractor rally scheduled for January 26 will take place on Delhi's busy Outer Ring Road as decided earlier, after their Friday’s talks with the government ended in a deadlock. Coming out of the meeting, farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said it is for the government to ensure that the rally is peaceful.

"Tractor march on January 26 will take place as decided by us on Outer Ring Road. We have informed the police that it is for the government to ensure that it should be peaceful," PTI reported Rajewal as saying.

18:20 (IST)22 Jan 2021
No problems in farm laws, says Tomar as talks with farmers hit roadblock

The 11th round of discussion between the government and the protesting farmers' unions hit a roadblock on Friday, with both the sides hardening their stands, and could not even reach a decision on the date of next meeting. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said there are no problems in the farm laws brought by the farmers but the Govt still offered to suspend them as a sign of respect for farmers. At the end of the 11th meeting to break the deadlock over the laws, Tomar thanked the protesting farmer unions for cooperation and told them that the govt is ready for another meeting if they want to discuss proposal on suspending laws.

Meanwhile, the farmer leaders alleged even as the meeting lasted for nearly five hours, the two sides sat face to face for less than 30 minutes. 'The minister made us wait for three & a half hours. This is an insult to farmers. When he came, he asked us to consider the government's proposal and said that he is ending the process of meetings,' said S S Pandher of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, adding that the agitation will continue peacefully.

17:26 (IST)22 Jan 2021
11th round of meeting ends, no date for next meeting fixed yet

Eleventh round of meetings between farmer unions and the government over the three farm laws has ended. "No date for the next meeting has been fixed by the government," says Surjeet Singh Phul, State President of BKU Krantikari (Punjab).

16:27 (IST)22 Jan 2021
Pawar to take part in event in support of agitating farmers

NCP president Sharad Pawar on Friday said he will take part in a protest planned in Mumbai to express support for farmers agitating against the new agri- marketing laws enacted by the Modi government. Talking to reporters in Kolhapur, around 375km from here, the former Union agriculture minister noted that the agitating farmers have rejected the Centre's offer to suspend the new laws for 18 months. --PTI

15:50 (IST)22 Jan 2021
Govt asks farm leaders to reconsider proposal for suspending laws

On their 11th meeting over the three contentious farm laws, the farmer unions Friday told the government they want a complete repeal of the legislations while the Centre asked them to reconsider its proposal for putting the Acts on hold for 12-18 months. “We told the government that we will not agree to anything other than the repeal of the laws. But the minister asked us to discuss separately again and rethink on the matter and convey the decision,” farmer leader Darshan Pal told PTI during a break after the first session of their meet.

15:28 (IST)22 Jan 2021
Don't let "ego" come in way of breaking farm laws impasse: Uma

Senior BJP leader Uma Bharti on Friday said the Centre and protesting farmers should ensure that stubbornness and ego do not come in the way of resolving differences over the new agri-marketing laws. The former Union minister said it is after a gap of more than 30 years that farmers have gathered near Delhi to push for their demands. It is an opportunity for both the government and farmers. Stubbornness and ego from both sides should not come in the way (of finding a solution to impasse over new laws), she told reporters at her bungalow here. --PTI

14:12 (IST)22 Jan 2021
Tractor parade on Republic Day to be held on Delhi's Outer Ring Road

Lakhs of farmers from different parts of the country are expected to join the tractor parade in New Delhi on Republic Day. The parade on January 26 will be held on Outer Ring Road, and won't interrupt the official Republic Day parade, farm leaders said. Farmers have also planned to set up tableaus on tractor-trolleys during their parade. Read more here

13:53 (IST)22 Jan 2021
Tomar hopeful govt-farmer talks will move towards a solution today
A delegation of farmers arrives at Vigyan Bhawan to hold talks with the government, in New Delhi. (Express Photo: Amit Mehra)

Three Union Ministers are leading the talks with farmers today, Narendra Singh Tomar, Piyush Goyal and Som Prakash. The talks started just after 1 pm. So far, all rounds of talks have remained inconclusive. On Wednesday, Tomar said he believed the talks were moving in a “meaningful direction”, and “we expect to move towards a solution on January 22.”

13:41 (IST)22 Jan 2021
Yashwant Sinha tweets: Govt does not have power to keep laws in abeyance

Former Union minister Yashwant Sinha says the government does not have the power to keep laws in abeyance, and can only repeal them.

13:28 (IST)22 Jan 2021
Govt-farmer talks begin

The eleventh round of talks between the government and farmer unions is underway in Delhi.

13:00 (IST)22 Jan 2021
Explained: 5 reasons why the government decided to put farm laws on hold

After a round of internal discussions on Thursday, farmer unions rejected the government’s offer on keeping the farm laws on hold. But why did the government offer this in the first place? Liz Mathew lists 5 reasons:

  • SC's move to stay the implementation of the law
  • RSS leadership’s public statement calling for “sensitivity” 
  • Sangh leadership’s open call could embolden those “disapproving voices” inside the party
  • The tractor rally on Republic Day
  • Upcoming Parliament session
12:38 (IST)22 Jan 2021
Pause or repeal farm laws: Govt may have to go back to SC or Parliament
At Ghazipur, on the Delhi-UP border, on Thursday

As farmers reject the government's proposal to keep the three contentious farm laws in abeyance for 18 months, experts have raised questions over the legislative options the Government has going forward. The laws, passed by Parliament in September last year, were notified in the official gazette on September 27 after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent. While Parliament can repeal the law, there is no vocabulary in the Constitution or Parliamentary procedure for keeping a law in abeyance. Read Apurva Vishwanath and Liz Mathew's report

12:01 (IST)22 Jan 2021
At CWC meet, Sonia Gandhi targets Govt over farmers' protest

During the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, Sonia Gandhi has targeted the government over the ongoing farmers’ agitation, saying it has shown "shocking insensitivity and arrogance going through the charade of consultations".

“It is abundantly clear that the three laws were prepared in haste and Parliament was consciously denied an opportunity for examining in any meaningful details their implications and impacts. Our position has been very clear from the very beginning: we reject them categorically because they will destroy the foundations of food security that are based on the three pillars of MSP, public procurement and PDS,” she said. Read more here

11:39 (IST)22 Jan 2021
Karnataka farmers plan massive tractor rally in Bengaluru on Republic Day

Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, leader of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS), a farmers’ movement, said there would be over 10,000 tractors participating in the parade on January 26. “Around 25,000 farmers will enter Bengaluru and reach Freedom Park through the main roads of the city via Yeshwanthpur and Malleswaram. The parade will be held from Nelamangala to Bengaluru, with farmers arriving in more than 10,000 tractors and other vehicles. The parade is planned to begin soon after the chief minister hoists the national flag,” he said. Read more here

10:42 (IST)22 Jan 2021
Farmers reject Centre's proposal to stay farm laws

Representatives of the central government and farmer unions will meet today for another round of talks over the farm laws. During their last meeting yesterday, farmer unions rejected the Centre's proposal to keep the laws in abeyance for 18 months, and reiterated their demand for repeal of the laws. 

farmer protest, farmers news, farmers news, farmers govt meeting, farmers govt talks, Government-farmers meeting, farmers protest in delhi, delhi farmers protest, farmers protest in delhi, farmers government meeting today Farmers sit in protest against the new farm bill at Singhu border, New Delhi, on Tuesday January 19, 2021 Express photo by Abhinav Saha.

During their previous meeting on Thursday, farmer unions rejected the Centre's proposal to keep the laws in abeyance for 18 months, and reiterated their demand for repeal of the laws. However, sources told The Indian Express, nearly half the farm leaders were in favour of accepting the offer. Two days ago, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar had said he believed the talks were moving in a "meaningful direction", and "we expect to move towards a solution on January 22."

Farmers are gearing up for their tractor parade on Republic Day, when lakhs are expected to rally on a 16-17 km stretch of Delhi's Outer Ring Road. During a meeting with the Delhi Police on Thursday, farmers were requested to reconsider their proposed route, and hold it at the protest sites at Singhu or Tikri or on the Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways. Farmers are planning to set up tableaus of all states on tractor-trolleys during the parade.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court-appointed expert committee spoke to farmer organisations for the first time via video-conference on Thursday. It said it interacted with farmers from eight states, and received "suggestions to improve implementation of the Acts". The farmer unions, it said, "gave their frank opinion including suggestions to improve the implementation of Acts".

Farmers have been protesting in the national capital for over 50 days now. They are demanding the repeal of three farm laws which were enacted last September: The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.

Earlier this week, the Centre had suggested keeping the laws in abeyance for 18 months, and offered to form a joint committee of government and farmer representatives to address grievances.

Emerging from the talks, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said: "As you are aware, the Supreme Court has stayed the agriculture reform laws for a short duration. Their implementation will not happen for some time. In the past and even today, we told them that more time is needed to consider the laws in detail, discuss various aspects related to the agitation. And the required time may be six months, one year or one-and-half years.

"The government is ready to put on hold the implementation of the laws for one, one-and-half years. During this period, the government and farmer representatives shall find a solution. Whatever the solution, it should be taken forward," he added.

A day later, farmers unions rejected the proposal. However, sources told The Indian Express that of the 32 unions from Punjab, more than a dozen were in favour of accepting the offer, but the majority vote carried the resolution to reject the offer.

A statement on behalf of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella body of organisations spearheading the protest, released by Darshan Pal of Krantikari Kisan Union, stated: “In a full general body meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha today, the proposal put forth by the Government yesterday was rejected. A full repeal of three central farm acts and enacting a legislation for remunerative MSP for all farmers were reiterated as the pending demands of the movement.”