Leaders of the farmers’ unions will meet with ministers on Tuesday, possibly paving the way for the seventh round of talks as protests continue.
Indian farmer union leaders agreed to meet with federal ministers on Tuesday, possibly paving the way for a seventh round of negotiations with the government which has so far failed to appease producers who say three new agricultural laws threaten their livelihoods.
Worried about the 24-hour farm sit-ins in the New Delhi suburbs, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on Thursday invited protest leaders to continue talks.
Farmer unions still insist they want the laws repealed, a union coalition called Samyukta Kisan Morcha said on Saturday in a letter to the agriculture ministry.
“We decided to talk and make a proposal. Our proposal is that the talks between the representatives of the farmers and the central government take place on December 29 at 11 am, ”said Yogendra Yadav of the Swaraj India organization.
Reading the letter sent to the government, Yadav said that the first item on the meeting’s agenda should be the terms of repealing the three laws, which came into effect in September.
The government says the laws will allow farmers to no longer have to sell their produce only in regulated wholesale markets. He argues that farmers will win if large traders, retailers and food processors can buy direct from producers, bypassing outdated wholesale markets.
But tens of thousands of farmers have camped on national highways to demand the government remove laws they believe will eventually dismantle regulated markets and prevent the government from buying rice and wheat at guaranteed prices.
Farmer leaders also reportedly opposed plans at Tuesday’s meeting to impose severe penalties for the burning of crop stubble, a key source of air pollution, according to the farmers’ letter, seen by the Reuters news agency.
Modi dismissed the farmers’ protests as motivated by his political opponents, while the main opposition party leader in Congress, Rahul Gandhi, accused the prime minister of introducing laws to help a few businessmen.
Local media reported on Saturday that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata (BJP) party had lost one of its allies, the Rashtriya Loktantrik party, as its leader joined farmers in the demonstration in progress.
Darshan Pal, another farmer leader, said protesting farmers would organize a “tractor march” from the Singhu border on Wednesday on the outskirts of the capital New Delhi.
“The new year is coming. We invite the people of Delhi and neighboring regions to come celebrate their New Years on January 1, 2021 and have meals with us, ”he said.
The Singhu border is New Delhi’s northern entrance from Haryana state and is currently filled with tens of thousands of farmers.