The 10th round of talks on Wednesday between the protesting farmers and the Central government ended, with the latter offering to put on hold the three disputed farm Acts for around a year and a half.
During the period, a panel comprising representatives of the farmer groups and the government could deliberate on all outstanding issues, including minimum support price.
The farmers’ unions that participated in the negotiations said they would discuss the offer with other groups and come back in a day or two. The next round of negotiations is scheduled for January 22. The Centre, sources said, was willing to give the offer in the form of an affidavit in the Supreme Court, which is hearing the matter. The farmers, on their part, will have to suspend their agitation.
“We have offered to keep the laws on hold for a year and a half, during which time a solution can be reached through mutual dialogue. It seems we are moving towards a solution and a positive outcome could be expected in the next meeting,” Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who represented the Central government, told reporters.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) President Joginder Singh Ugrahan said: “We rejected the proposal but since it has come from the government, we will meet tomorrow (Thursday) and deliberate on it.” Another farmer leader Kavitha Kuruganti said the government proposed to submit an affidavit in the Supreme Court for suspending the three farm laws for a period agreed upon, and set up a committee. Sources said as in the previous nine meetings, the Central government, represented by Tomar, Food Minister Piyush Goyal, and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, turned down the demand for repealing the Acts and offered to amend them. The farmers rejected the proposal.
The farmers offered to take up the next issue of legal guarantee for minimum support price, to which the government side said the big issue of the three Acts needed to be settled before moving forward.
Seeing that the negotiations were reaching a dead end, Tomar offered to hold back the implementation of the laws.
The laws, meanwhile, have been stayed till further orders by the Supreme Court, which has formed a committee to resolve the deadlock.
The committee, which had its first meeting on Tuesday and will begin consultations with various stakeholders on Thursday, has been asked to give its report in two months.
Farmer leaders also raised the issue of notices being served to some of them by the National Investigation Agency, alleging it was being done to harass those supporting the agitation. The government representatives said they would look into the matter.
Before the meeting, the three ministers met Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
In the last round of talks, the government had asked the farmers to prepare a proposal about their objections and suggestions on the three farm laws.
Bhartiya Kisan Union President Bhupinder Singh Mann has recused himself from the committee appointed by the apex court.
Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra) President Anil Ghanwat and agricultural economists Pramod Kumar Joshi and Ashok Gulati are the other three members on the panel.
Under attack from protesting unions for their “pro-government” public stand on the three laws, the members of the committee have said they will keep aside their own views while consulting the various stakeholders, even as they indicated a repeal won’t augur well for agricultural reforms.
Earlier in the day, a group of farm union leaders met top police officials of Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh to discuss the route and arrangements for their tractor rally on January 26 to protest against the three farm laws.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed displeasure over the aspersions cast by some farmers’ unions on the members of the court-appointed committee, saying no adjudicating authority had been given to the experts, who would just hear their grievances and give a report.