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Fresh round of farmer-govt talks on three laws today

Farmers on protest for over a month demanding the scrapping of three agricultural laws will hold their eighth round of negotiations with the government on Friday. The government has refused to roll back the laws farmers say will hurt their incomes; the last round of talks on January 4 failed to end the impasse.

On Friday, thousands of farmers staged a tractor march from their camps on Delhi’s borders to converge on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal expressway, ahead of a planned march to the Capital on Republic Day.

“There are media reports doing the rounds that the government has formulated a new proposal. There is no such thing. This is a game to divert media attention away from our successful tractor march today,” said Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj India and a leader of the farmers’ agitation.

At the seventh round of talks on January 4, while the farmers pressed government to repeal the three agricultural laws approved by Parliament in September, farm minister Narendra Singh Tomar said it was not possible to commit to a repeal.

“…we are again reminding the government ahead of tomorrow’s meeting that these laws should be completely repealed and remunerative MSP should be made into a legal right of all farmers,” Darshan Pal, a farmers’ leader, said.

“…the farmers’ agitation will continue and we will enter the capital to celebrate Republic Day without disturbing the official parade if our demands are not met,” said Avik Saha, the secretary of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee.

“The government is ready to fulfil all the demands. But farmers are now saying that the laws be repealed…I think farmer unions don’t want a solution. I think their plan is something else,” Punjab BJP leader Surjit Kumar Jyani said after meeting home minister Amit Shah.

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Analysts say the government and farmers have to find a middle ground. “The repeal of the laws has to be a political call but it is possible to devise mechanisms such as price deficiency payments…,” said RS Mani, a former economist with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.

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