If the government wants to talk to farmer leaders that should be formally conveyed like in previous occasions, said Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait on Friday, asserting that anything less than scrapping of the new agri laws won't be accepted. The government on Thursday asked farmer groups to consider its proposals for amending the Acts to address their concerns and said it was open to discussing its offer further whenever the unions want.
"They (government) should first tell us when and where they want to meet us as they did for previous formal talks. If they invite us for talks, we will discuss that with our coordination committee and then take a decision," Tikait said. The BKU leader said there was no question of returning home until the government repeals the three laws. Asked whether the government has sent any invite for further discussion, he said the farmer unions have not received anything as such.
"One thing is very clear that farmers will not accept anything less than scrapping of new agriculture laws," he said. Farmers leaders on Thursday announced they would block railway tracks across the country if their demands were not met by the government and would announce a date for that soon.
However, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has expressed hope there would be a resolution soon. "The government is keen and ready for further discussions with protesting farmers… To clear their apprehensions, we have sent our proposal to farmer unions.
"I want to urge them to fix a date for discussion as early as possible. If they have any issue, the government is ready for discussion," he had said during a address to reporters along with Food, Railways and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal. The agriculture minister had also said it was not proper on the part of the farmer unions to announce the next stage of agitation when talks were continuing, and urged them to return to the discussion table.
The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) condemned Tomar for his comments and claimed it was the government which remains adamant on not repealing the laws. In a statement, it remarked that the farmers' organisations were ready for talks and have responded for every previous discussion proposed by the government.
Another farmer organisation — the All India Kisan Sabha — said, "AIKS rebuffs the allegation of Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar that the kisan organisations were wrong in intensifying struggle while discussion was going on." It stated that the farmers' struggle would be intensified in the coming days until their demands were met. At least five rounds of formal talks have taken place between the Centre and representatives of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, protesting on various borders of the national capital for about two weeks, but the deadlock has continued with the unions sticking to their main demand for the repeal of the three contentious laws.
The sixth round of talks between the government and farm union leaders, which was scheduled for Wednesday morning, was cancelled.