“We can have a meeting tomorrow with unions if they reconsider and agree to our proposal. We don’t have a better option than this. The proposal is best in the interest of both farmers and the nation,” agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, after the eleventh round of meeting between the agitating farmers and the government. Tomar said the government would wait for farmers’ reply.
“Talks have been completed today. If they agree to our proposal, then we can again meet with unions tomorrow,” he said. There are unions among farmers who are in favour of the government’s proposal and there are some who are opposed to it, Tomar said. “In a democracy, contrasting views go together. I hope those who are in favour of our proposal convince others and we reach a constructive solution to this impasse.”
Tomar, who generally looks composed, hit out at opposition parties alleging that farmers were playing into the hands of political parties. “When the government and the unions are discussing resolution in interest for farmers and the country, there is some force which doesn’t want this agitation to end,” he said.
Standing firmly behind the three farm Acts, Tomar said there was no lacunae in those. “Out of respect for farmers and to resolve the issue, we agree to make amendments. These Acts are perfect and would go a long way in bringing prosperity for farmers,” he said.
The government has been engaging in dialogue with farmer unions since October 14 so that an amicable solution can be found, the minister said. The go- vernment, on the basis of discussions, identified a few provisions on which unions had reservations. It then wrote a proposal for amending those clauses and invited the agitating farmers to discuss the matter clause wise for considering more amendments, he said. “But they stuck to repealing the laws. We offered them to discuss alternatives other than repealing, but they remained adamant.”
Accusing unions of not following the basic tenets of negotiations, Tomar said they continued to make aggressive programme for agitation in between the rounds of talks. When talks are ongoing, both sides should restrain from announcing steps which can derail the talks, he said. “Unfortunately, unions didn’t keep up with the basic principles of dialogue.”