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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 22 January 2021 9.16 AM IST

Farmers arrive for talks, claim no conditions from centre

farmers

NEW DELHI: The government is holding third round of talks with 35 representatives of the protesting farmers who've agreed to hold discussions "without preconditions". Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal are leading the negotiations; they're likely to assure the farmers about the new agricultural laws, and dispel rumours over the minimum support price. The new farm laws will not be repealed, the protesters are likely to be told. This morning, Home Minister Amit Shah met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Mr Tomar, Mr Goyal and BJP chief JP Nadda, sources say, for the second time in 48 hours amid massive protests around Delhi. "We are ready for a discussion to resolve their issues," Mr Tomar told reporters this afternoon he arrived for the meeting.

This morning, the protesting farmers said they'll again demand cancellation of the new laws. "The government invited us without preconditions. About 35 representatives will go for talks. We'll demand the new laws be repealed and a law be brought on the MSP. If the government doesn't agree, protests will continue," Jagjit Singh Dallewal of the Bharatiya Kisan Union said after a meeting. Earlier, one of unions backed out, demanding all 500 organisations - that are part of protests - be invited for talks.

Three days ahead of the scheduled meet, Mr Tomar on Monday invited the farmers for talks, citing coronavirus and cold. "On November 13, we decided we'll meet on December 3, but farmers are in a mood to protest. We request you to leave the protest and find a solution through talks," he said. Mr Tomar has met Amit Shah thrice in two days after farmers threatened to block Delhi.

Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav, who was part of a seven-member committee of farmers, backed out from government negotiations after the centre reportedly objected to any activists attending the talks, as per sources. Mr Yadav, however, said the negotiations must continue. He was detained last week as the protests escalated.

This is the third round of talks between the farmers and the government in the last few months. The first round was chaired by Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Aggarwal. The second round of meeting was Co-Chaired by Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Railway Minister Piyush Goel on November 13. The meeting lasted for around seven hours. In a long charter of demands, the farmers had demanded the repealing of the contentious laws. The talks are expected to move forward today.

Prime Minister Narendra defended farm laws on Monday again as he said: "New laws don't stop old system. If someone thinks that the earlier system is better, how is this law stopping anyone?" He reassured farmers that the new open market system will not mean the end to the traditional mandis and the MSP. On Sunday, the Prime Minister in his monthly radio address- "Mann Ki Baat" - had said that the centre's new laws have "opened more opportunities" for the farmers, and have fulfilled their long-pending demands.

On Sunday, the farmers had said they will block five entry points to Delhi: Sonipat, Rohtak, Jaipur, Ghaziabad-Hapur, and Mathura. The protest, which has been planned for over two months, is said to be supported by around 3 lakh farmers. "We have a one-point demand - to repeal the three new farm laws. That's the only discussion we want. Centre trying to divert our attention with small talk, hence the resistance," Hannan Mollah, one of the leaders, said on Tuesday.

As farmers continue to camp around Delhi borders, key roads near neighbouring Haryana remain closed. The Delhi Police has told commuters to take alternate routes as Sighu Border and Tikri border remain shut. Numbers are likely to swell at the borders, and the cops have been told to show restraint, officials have said.

In Haryana, trouble is brewing for the BJP with its ally after the party of Dushyant Chautala, the Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana, said the government must think big and find a solution to the farmers' demands. Haryana was criticised last week over the handling of the protests. All khaps in the state have unanimously decided to support the farmers. "We request government to re-consider farm laws. Everyone has a right to express themselves," Sombir Sangwan, Haryana Khap Pradhan and Dadri MLA said on Monday

Thousands of farmers, who have braved water cannons, tear gas and police barricades, began their protest last week against the farm laws, aimed at doing away with middlemen and allow them to sell produce anywhere in the country. Farmers and opposition parties allege the laws will deprive the farmers of minimum support price and leave them at the mercy of corporates. Ex-Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, BSP chief Mayawati and Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav have backed the protesters in their tweets.

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TAGS: FARMERS STIR, PIYUSH GOYAL, RAJANTH SINGH, NO CONDITIONS FROM CENTER, JP NADDA, AMIT SHAH, DELHI, PUNJAB, HARAYANA, MSP, NARENDRA SINGH TOMAR, SANJAY AGGRAWAL, DUSHYANT CHAUTALA, DECEMBER 3, YOGENDRA YADAV
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