By Navneet Mishra
New Delhi, Dec 5 (IANS) The fifth round meeting of three ministers of the Modi government with farmer leaders at Vigyan Bhawan on Saturday was very different from the previous ones.
This time the meeting was held in a more convivial atmosphere. The mood of the three ministers of Modi government, Narendra Singh Tomar, Piyush Goyal and Som Prakash may have been more lenient, but the farmer leaders were vocal about the demands. So much so that the farmer leaders threatened to walk out of Vigyan Bhavan if their demands were not met.
The meeting was interrupted after the farmer leaders warning. There were many occasions in the five-hour-long meeting when the conversation appeared to have been derailed. However, the ministers handled it well to bring the dialogue back on track.
The fifth round meeting started at Vigyan Bhavan at 2 pm. There was a lunch break after about two and a half hours. The farmers, rejecting the government lunch once again, asked for their own food and had it sitting on the floor.
When the dialogue resumed after lunch, the farmers started waving placards that read Yes or No. The farmer leaders told the ministers, “Will the government withdraw the farm laws or not, answer in yes or no.”
When the ministers refused to say anything explicitly, all the 40 farmer leaders took a maun vrat (vow of silence) and kept their fingers on the lips. For half an hour, the farmer leaders did not speak a word and were seen waving placards in the meeting seeking answers in yes or no.
Troubled by this, the three ministers reportedly told the farmers, “How can the deadlock be overcome without talking? You should cooperate in the negotiations so that a solution can be found.”
During this time, the farmer leaders said that the government was repeatedly avoiding giving direct answers by giving out dates for another round of talks. Instead of accepting the demand to withdraw all the three laws, the government is delaying things. If there is no clear assurance in the meeting, all the farmer leaders will boycott it.
On this, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said that no solution would come out of boycotting meetings. Some misunderstandings that still remain will be discussed in the December 9 meeting and attempts will be made to resolve them.
The ministers appealed to the farmers to withdraw the Bharat Bandh appeal on December 8, but the farmer leaders categorically refused the demand. They said that the movement would continue till the government withdrew all the three farm laws.