Farmers reject govt offer to amend laws as ninth round of talks get underway at Vigyan Bhawan

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railways, Commerce and Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, who is an MP from Punjab, are holding the talks with the representatives of around 40 farmer unions at the Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi. This is the ninth round of talks between protesting farmer unions and the government to break the over-a-month-long deadlock on the three new agri laws. 
At today’s meeting, the government told farmer leaders that it is ready to amend the laws, but the unions rejected it. Tomar then said that the Supreme Court has already stayed the implementation of the law and the government is willing to discuss the contentious points, if any, in the laws.
Earlier on Thursday, Tomar had said that the government is hopeful of positive discussions, adding that the Centre is ready to hold talks with farmer leaders with an open mind.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court had stayed the implementation of the three laws till further orders and appointed a four-member panel to resolve the impasse. Bhartiya Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann on Thursday recused himself from the committee appointed by the apex court. 
Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra) president Anil Ghanwat, International Food Policy Research Institute’s Pramod Kumar Joshi and agriculture economist Ashok Gulati are the other three members on the panel.
On January 8, the eighth round of meeting remained inconclusive as the Centre ruled out repealing the three contentious laws claiming nationwide support for the reforms. However, farmer leaders had said that they were ready to fight till death and their ‘ghar waapsi’ would happen only after ‘law waapsi’.
Though talks till now have remained inconclusive, in the sixth round held on December 30 last year some common ground was reached on two demands — decriminalisation of stubble-burning and continuation of power subsidies.
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at several Delhi border points, demanding a complete repeal of the three farm laws and legal guarantee of minimum support price for their crops. They have expressed their 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. Enacted in September last year, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.

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