As the farmers’ agitation entered its 32nd day on Monday, the government invited 40 protesting farmer unions for the next round of talks on December 30 (December) to find a “logical solution” to the current impasse over the farm laws.

Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Aggarwal invited the farmers’ unions for holding talks at 2 pm on Wednesday at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. The last formal meeting took place on December 5, in which union leaders had demanded a clear ‘yes or no’ answer from the government on their main demand of the repeal of the three laws. The sixth round of talks originally scheduled for December 9 was called off a day after an informal meeting of Home Minister Amit Shah with some union leaders failed to reach any breakthrough.

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The government had, however, followed up Shah’s meeting with a draft proposal sent to the unions in which it had suggested 7-8 amendments to the new laws and written assurance on the MSP procurement system.

Aggarwal sent the invite in the form of a letter which said, “The government is also committed to finding a logical solution on all relevant issues with a clear intention and an open mind.”

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With regard to the proposed agenda by the unions for the meeting, the Secretary said a detailed discussion will take place on three farm laws, MSP procurement system as well as Electricity Amendment bill and ordinance to tackle air pollution in and around Delhi/NCR.

However, the government letter did not make any specific reference to one key condition proposed by the unions seeking talks on modalities for the repeal of the Acts.

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Earlier on December 26, the farmers’ unions had made a proposal to hold the talks on Tuesday, December 29, on agenda including modalities for the repeal of the three farm laws enacted in September.

Meanwhile, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Monday said that even former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Nationalist Congress Party supremo Sharad Pawar — who served as the Agriculture Minister during the UPA government — wanted to implement reforms in the farm sector but could not due to ‘external forces’.

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Tomar stated that many Chief Ministers had tried to implement the same farm laws that the Narendra Modi government has formulated for agriculture sector reforms in the country but could not implement them due to these external pressures.

While addressing farmer unions on Monday, Tomar said, “Many commissions, ministers, chief minister’s and governments have made an effort to work in the direction of farm sector reform. During the UPA regime, Dr Manmohan Singh and Sharad Pawar wanted to implement these reforms. However, due to some pressure, they couldn’t implement these laws.”

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