Centre invites farmers for talks on December 30

Committed to a logical solution, it says

The Union government has invited protesting farmers’ groups to resume negotiations with a ministerial delegation on December 30. Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal sent the invitation to 40 farmers’ organisations on Monday evening.

However, the letter does not specifically reference the farmers’ key demand for repeal of three reform laws. The Samyukt Kisan Morcha plans to hold an internal consultation at 6 p.m. to discuss their response.

Mr. Agarwal noted that the farmers’ groups had communicated their willingness to hold discussions with an open mind. “The Government of India is also committed to finding a logical solution of the relevant issues with an open mind and honest intentions,” he said.

Five rounds of talks have been held with farmers, who are protesting on Delhi’s borders for 33 days. Negotiations broke down on December 9, when farmers’ groups rejected the government’s proposal to amend the three contentious laws, insisting on their full repeal instead. Last week, Agriculture Ministry joint secretary Vivek Aggarwal wrote to the farmers’ groups urging them to resume negotiations, suggesting that they set the date and issues of their choosing to be discussed.

On Saturday, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha responded, proposing a meeting at 11 a.m. on December 29, demanding a four-point agenda, beginning with the modalities to be adopted for the revocation of the three laws and a mechanism of legal guarantee for minimum support price. The other demands are that farmers be exempted from the penal provisions of the Commission for Air Quality, and changes to be made to the Electricity Bill, 2020.

Mr. Agarwal’s letter mentioned the same four issues to be discussed at the December 30 meeting, but left out the specific reference to “modalities for repeal” of the three laws, as well as the “legal guarantee” with regard to MSPs.

“This is wordplay being engaged in by the government. We will want to clarify that our proposed agenda has been clearly understood,” a senior farmer leader told The Hindu before the Samyukt Kisan Morcha meeting.

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