The seventh round of talks between the central government and farmers' representatives have started at Delhi's Vigyan Bhawan. Before the start of the meeting, Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Piyush Goyal and Som Parkash along with government officials and representatives of farmers observed a two-minute silence for farmers who died during the ongoing protest.
Farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and some other states are camping at several entry points of the national capital blocking the highways for the past 39 days. They have demanded that the Centre must repeal the farm laws and give legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for crops.
After five rounds of inconclusive talks, the government and 40 farmer unions reached some common ground during the sixth round of negotiations on December 30 to resolve protesting farmers' concerns over rise in power tariff and penalties for stubble burning. However, the two sides remained deadlocked over the main contentious issues of the repeal of the three farm laws and a legal guarantee for MSP.
Enacted in September 2020, the government says these laws are major farm reforms and aimed at increasing farmers' income, but protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the MSP and mandi systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporates.
Meanwhile, ahead of today's talks, the Congress said it would be a "true test of nationalism". Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said on Twitter, "Today is the true test of 'Nationalism'. Will Modi Government act in 'National Interest' or 'Crony Corporate Interest'." The Congress has been demanding the repeal of the three farm laws whose enactment has triggered a massive protest by farmers.
With PTI inputs