In a bid to end ongoing stalemate between farmers and the government over the three farm laws, Centre has proposed to suspend the new legislations for one and a half years. In the tenth round of talks with protesting farmer leaders, the government also proposed to set up a joint committee to discuss the Acts. The farmer leaders, however, did not immediately accept the proposal and said they will take a decision after internal discussions on January 21. The almost five-hour-long talks concluded with no concrete developments and the next meeting is scheduled on January 22.
The central government reportedly proposed to submit an affidavit in the Supreme Court regarding suspension of farm laws for eighteen months. The apex court has already 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 had recused himself from the committee appointed by the apex court.
Three central ministers, including Aggriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, participated in the tenth round of talks with the representatives of around 40 farmer unions at the Vigyan Bhawan in Delhi on Wednesday.
"During discussions, we said that government is ready to put on hold the farm laws for one or one-and-half years. I'm happy that farmer unions have taken this very seriously and said that they would consider it tomorrow and convey their decision on January 22," Tomar was quoted by news agency ANI after the meeting.
Tomar further stated that there is a possibility of finding a resolution in the next round of talks.
"The government said that it will submit an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that it can suspend the implementation of farm laws for a year or two. We will discuss this and give our decision," Hannah Mollah, All India Kisan Mahasabha general secretary and CPI (M) leader, said after the meeting.
The tenth round of talks was initially scheduled on January 19, but later got postponed to Wednesday. In the last round of talks, the government had asked protesting farmers to prepare a concrete proposal about their objections and suggestions on the three farm laws for further discussion at their next meeting to end the long-running protest. But, unions stuck to their main demand of a complete repeal of the three Acts.
Earlier in the day, a group of farm union leaders met top officials of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh police departments to discuss the route and arrangements for their tractor rally on January 26 to protest against the three farm laws.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at the Delhi borders for over a month, demanding a repeal of farm laws and a legal guarantee to the minimum support price (MSP) for crops. Farmer groups have alleged these laws will end the mandi and MSP procurement systems and leave the farmers at the mercy of big corporates, even though the government has rejected these apprehensions as misplaced.