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August 3, 2021
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Agriculture Minister Calls Farmers for Talks Today, Cites Cold, Covid

Narendra Tomar

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar has invited the leaders of farmer organizations protesting against the three agricultural laws of the central government for five days on the Delhi border for talks at Vigyan Bhawan on Tuesday instead of December 3, citing COVID-19 epidemic and cold. Earlier, the farmers said that they had come for a decisive battle and will return only after the three laws were taken back by the centre.

Tomar said, “On November 13 we decided to conduct next round of talks on December 3 but Farmers continued their protest and with the Covid situation and with winters we decided that we needed to talk before December 3 and resolve the situation. That is why on December 1 at 3 pm in Vigyan Bhawan all Kisan Unions are invited who were present in the first round of meeting.”

Significantly, thousands of farmers have been protesting on the border of Delhi for the last five days. The strike against central agricultural laws entered the fifth day on Monday. The protestors threatened to block all five entry points to the national capital while rejecting the Centre’s offer to hold talks once they move to the Burari ground. The farmers said they will not accept any conditional dialogue and have called a meeting to discuss their next course of action later in the day.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Aggarwal has written a letter to representatives of 32 farmer unions and invited them for discussion on December 1. The organizations to which Agrawal has written letters include the Revolutionary Kisan Union, JammuhariKisan Sabha, BharatiyaKisan Sabha (Dakuda), Kul Hind Kisan Sabha and Punjab Kisan Union.

Tomar’s outreach came on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused opposition parties of playing tricks against the farmers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday defended the new agricultural laws and attacked the opposition parties, saying that they are spreading confusion over the government’s decision.

PM Modi said, “Earlier, if someone did not like the decision of the government, then there was opposition to it, but we have been seeing a new trend for some time now. Now the basis of protest is not the decision, but confusion and apprehensions, are being made the basis. “

It is to be noted the centre and farmers unions have held two rounds of talks earlier on October 14 and 13 November. However, both the meetings were inclusive and the Union Agriculture Ministry had invited the farmers for the second round of talks on 3 December to address their concerns arising out of the three new agricultural laws.

The farmers had abruptly ended the meeting on October 14 over the absence of the Union minister for agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar. Upset over the minister absence the farmers started raising slogans inside the ministry and tore up copies of the contentious farm laws. While no definitive conclusion was reached at the meeting between farmers bodies, the Punjab agriculture department, the Union agriculture minister and the Union railways minister in New Delhi on November 13.

Three new agricultural laws implemented by the Narendra Modi government of the Center include the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Simplification) Act 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Price Assurance and Agreement on Agricultural Services Act 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020. The protesting farmers are demanding the withdrawal of these three laws as well as a guarantee to purchase all crops at the minimum support price. Apart from this, they also have some other demands.

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