Farmer unions agree to talk to Centre; farm law repeal to remain primary agenda

About forty farmer unions wrote to the Centre on Saturday proposing for the talks to take place on Tuesday, December 29. For them, a repeal of all laws will still be the top priority

The farmers protesting the three new farm laws have accepted the government's offer to hold yet another round of meeting in an attempt to bring the contentions to an end.

About forty farmer unions wrote to the Centre on Saturday proposing for the talks to take place on Tuesday, December 29. For them, a repeal of all laws will still be the top priority.

The unions had called for a meeting amongst themselves today, in order to devise their forthcoming strategies.

Here are the important highlights regarding the developments of the past week:

  1. Farmers commenced with their meeting about 3 PM on Saturday at the Singhu border, which has emerged as the epicentre for the dissent. In conclusion to the meeting, a proposal letter was written to the government, wherein the protestors demanded for a meeting to be held at 11 AM on Tuesday.

    "You, in your letter, say the government wants to listen to farmers respectfully. If you really want that then stop making misleading remarks regarding our demands and stop using the entire government system to spread negative publicity against the protesting farmers," read an excerpt from the letter.

  2. A letter from the government, dated Sunday, December 20, offered the protesters to unanimously decide the date for the next round of talks. "The new letter is nothing but propaganda against us... to give the impression that we are not interested in talks," said farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka about the letter.

    "The government should put repeal of the laws on the agenda for fresh dialogue," Kakka told PTI on Thursday, December 24. Leaders of the forty farmer unions had collectively agreed that the BJP government "is not serious about our demands," reported PTI.

  3. On the occasion of Christmas, PM Modi accused the opposition of "spreading lies and rumours about farmers' troubles." "Across the country, farmers have been supporting the new agricultural laws. Those with political motives... are firing the gun from the farmers' shoulders," said the Prime Minister, while also attacking West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee for blocking centrally approved laws. Friday marked the biggest involvement by the Centre since the inception of the protests, with the BJP government reaching out to over 9 crore farmers in its address.
  4. "I ask even those opposing me today, that my government is ready to talk to them on farmer issues...I urge our farmers to not be misled by anyone," added Modi in an attempt to reassure the farmers of the minimum support price (MSP) for their crops.
  5. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh too had urged the farmers on Friday to trust the new laws for a trial run. "Let the new laws be implemented for a year or so," said Singh, promising to amend the laws in case it leads to adverse situations for the farmers.
  6. Friday also saw a group of protestors from Punjab's Phagwara area storm a hotel where BJP leaders had been holding an event, prompting the politicians to exit from the backdoor under police protection. While the agitations have garnered nationwide traction and support, the protesting farmers predominantly belong to Punjab, as well as Haryana.
  7. Farmers had also commenced with a collective hunger strike earlier this week on Monday, comprising a group of eleven fasts for 24 hours. Zeroing-in on toll plazas and highways, farmers had also called for two countrywide protests on Sunday - a nationwide shutdown along with a pan-India hunger strike. They are also planning to halt all toll collections from December 25 to 27.
  8. Prominent opposition leaders, including Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and chief ministers of Punjab, Delhi, West Bengal, and Kerala have displayed solidarity with the farmers of the country, backing their agitations against the anti-farm laws. Gandhi, 50, had met with President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday for further deliberation on the matter.

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