CHANDIGARH/NEW DELHI: While thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana were allowed to enter the national capital on Friday for a planned protest against Centre’s new farm laws after a morning of clashes with the police at the Delhi-Haryana border, government sources have claimed that non-uniformity of demands from farmers’ unions is leading to inconclusive talks.
But representatives of farmers’ unions rejected the government claim, saying they remained united on their demands since day one and only Bharatiya Kisan Union, Punjab, (Rajewal group) president Balbir Singh Rajewal and another farmers’ leader Darshan Pal, who had talked to Union ministers and other agriculture ministry officials earlier, were authorised to hold the dialogues with the government.
The government sources’ claim came even as Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Friday again appealed to the agitating farmers to end their protests and discuss their issues with the Centre on December 3. “They and we also knew that in the first meeting with Union ministers, nothing would come out. These are serious issues and need time to be deliberated. We had raised our concerns in those meetings. Now, if they claim that the farmers’ unions have put across different demands, it is nothing but a strategy to “misguide” farmers.
Only three authorised farmers’ leaders had held meetings with the government representatives in the past,” a farmer said. Rajewal and Pal claimed that they had a seven-hour long meeting with Tomar and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on November 13 and put forward their points in detail. “We had listed five demands, including revocation of the laws, the MSP should be given and it should be made a law and not just oral assurances by the government, restoration of train services in Punjab, withdrawal of penalties for burning stubble and a cut in diesel tax,’’ Rajewal said.
Sources in the agriculture ministry said the talks are prolonging as there are many organisations with no uniform set of demands.“This is leading to delay in talks and all demands of all organisations need to be kept in mind while discussing the issues,” the sources said. Officials in the ministry said the government is open and ready to discuss all issues. “We know that the talks have been inconclusive so far. But all negotiations take time and this is no different. Like the minister has reiterated on Thursday, we are ready to discuss all issues and come to an amicable solution,” an official said. The officials also said assurances were given to the farmers at the meeting.