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Farmer unions to again meet Saturday on govt’s fresh talks offer, indicate resumption of dialogue

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NEW DELHI: The protesting
farmer
unions met
on Friday
to discuss the government’s latest letter inviting them for
talks, with some
of them indicating that they may decide
to resume their
dialogue with the Centre
to find a solution
to the ongoing deadlock over the three contentious agri laws.

The
unions said they will hold another meeting
on
Saturday where a formal decision
on the Centre’s invite for the
resumption
of stalled
talks is likely
to be taken.

An official in the Union ministry
of agriculture and farmers’ welfare also said the government was expecting the next round
of meeting
to take place in the next two-three days.

One
of the protesting union leaders, who did not wish
to be named, said their demand for a legal guarantee
on minimum support price will, however, remain the same.

“We have another meeting tomorrow
to take a decision
on the Centre’s letter. In this meeting, we may decide
to resume
talks with the government as it appears through its previous letters that it has not been able
to understand our issues so far,” the leader said.

He said the government’s letters have no proposals, the reason why
farmer
unions may decide
to hold
fresh
talks and make it understand their demands.

“MSP cannot be separated from our demand
of repealing these three laws. In these laws, there is mention about private mandis. Who will ensure that our crop is sold at fixed MSP if it is not there?” another leader asked.

On Friday, several
farmer
unions held a meeting, but no decision could be taken
on the Centre’s latest letter.

On Thursday, Joint Secretary in the Ministry
of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Vivek Aggarwal wrote
to the protesting
unions and invited them for
fresh
talks, but made it clear that it would not be “logical”
to include in the agenda any new demand related
to the MSP, which is out
of the purview
of the three new farm laws.

On Wednesday, the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body
of 40
unions protesting at three Delhi border points — Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur — for the last 28 days, had asked the government
to not repeat the proposal
of “meaningless” amendments that they have already rejected but
to come up with a “concrete
offer” in writing for the
resumption
of
talks.

The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee Friday demanded that the Centre arrange trains so that farmers from different parts
of the country reach the ongoing protests at Delhi’s border points, adding that they are ready
to pay the cost
of tickets for all peasants.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi squarely blamed those with a political agenda for the deadlock in the Centre’s
talks with the protesting farmers and asserted that his government was willing
to hold dialogues with all, including those staunchly opposed
to it, as long as
talks are based
on farm issues, facts and logic.

Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers
to sell their produce anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion
of the MSP and do away with the “mandi” (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy
of big corporates

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