New Delhi, Dec 1 (IANS) Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday headed the government side in the much-awaited talks with over 30 farmer unions on the sixth day of the ongoing farmers’ protest.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah, who were likely to participate in the meeting, chose to stay away from the talks at the last moment with the decision taken based on information received about farmers views’ from Vigyan Bhawan – the venue of the talks, said sources in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
It is anticipated that the two leaders, who hold major roles in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet, decided to keep away this time so that they could join the next round of discussions if the issue is not solved this time.
The meeting, which began at 3 p.m. at Vigyan Bhawan in Central Delhi, was also attended by Union Minister of State for Commerce Som Prakash and Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal.
The meeting was attended by leaders of over 32 farmer unions belonging to Punjab, including the Sanyukta Kisan Morcha and many others.
Minutes before the meeting, the Agriculture Minister had indicated that the options offered by the Central government to farmers will depend on their demands.
As the farmers have agreed to hold talks, the government’s priority was to first clear their misconceptions about the three farm laws enacted in September during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, which are the bone of contention.
It is learnt that the government currently has not decided to roll back the three farm laws which farmers allege are “anti-farm” and “black laws”: The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
Despite clearing the doubts of farmers about the three laws, two different sources told IANS that the government will separately discuss the continuation of Minimum Support Price (MSP) with the farmers.
As per the information, the government is not ready be seen on the backfoot by repealing the three laws.
Tomar and Goyal reached Vigyan Bhawan to attend the farmers’ meet after two back-to-back meetings at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President J.P. Nadda’s Motilal Nehru Marg residence on Tuesday in which Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah were present.
Chaired by Rajnath Singh, the meeting had prepared the strategy for the farmers meeting.
The meeting between the government and farmers comes after an invitation sent by Agriculture Minister to them following their protest that began on November 26.
Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh have been protesting at Delhi borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Currently, these farmers have been protesting at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders.
They agreed to have a dialogue with the government on Tuesday afternoon after a three-hour long meeting at the Singhu border followed by Agriculture Minister’s late-night invitation to them for the talks. Earlier, the government had decided to hold talks with the farmers on December 3.