Meeting no 9 ends, but result the same: No end to stalemate over farm laws

Friday’s meeting assumed importance because it was held after the Supreme Court stayed implementation of the laws pending a detailed hearing by a court-appointed committee

Most farmer unions say they can't trust the government ahead of their 11th round of talks with the Centre. | File photo

About 40 farmer leaders and a group of Union ministers met for the ninth time at Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi on Friday (January 15) to discuss the fate of three farm laws, only to come out without a solution to the deadlock.

Friday’s meeting assumed importance because it was held after the Supreme Court stayed implementation of the laws pending a detailed hearing by a court-appointed committee.

The next round of discussions would be held on January 19, the day the Supreme Court-appointed panel was supposed to start consulting stakeholders to end the stalemate.

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“The ninth round of talks was a 120 percent failure,” farmer leader Darshan Pal said, adding they suggested modifications to the Essential Commodities Act instead of scrapping it completely — a suggestion not accepted by Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

Also read: Farm laws have potential to bring agri reforms to India: IMF

After the meeting, the representatives of farmers expressed their desire to take out a tractor rally on January 26 “at all cost”.

Speaking out against the SC’s suggestion of forming a four-member committee, leaders of the 40 farmers’ unions said they would prefer a direct discussion with the Centre instead of “brokers”. They refused to appear before the four-member panel (one of the members has quit though) arguing that all the members were in support of the contentious laws.

The Centre, on its part, has no problem holding parleys with the farmer leaders directly, but said it won’t mind if they go to the court-appointed committee as well. One thing that the Centre is not willing to budge on is “NO REPEAL” of the farm laws.

Also read: Farmers welcome Mann’s call to leave SC panel, invite him to join protest

“The government and farmers should still work to find a solution. Whatever we can agree on will decide the future course of action,” Union Agriculture Minister Tomar said, adding that the government would abide by the Supreme Court’s orders.

A day before, one of the members of the court-appointed commission, Bhupinder Singh Mann, quit saying he “stands with the farmers of Punjab”. Mann is one of the few farmer leaders, who openly supported the Centre’s farm laws earlier.

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