Farmer leaders reject Centre's latest letter, say open to talks but need 'concrete solution'

Farmer leaders reject Centres latest letter, say open to talks but need concrete solution

New Delhi: Rejecting the Centre's latest letter sent to them seeking a date for the next round of talks, farmer leaders on Monday said they are always ready for dialogue as long as the government is offering a "concrete solution".

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait said the government, in its letter, mentioned that it wants to hold talks over its earlier proposal of amendments in the new agri laws. "On this issue (government's proposal), we did not talk to them earlier. We are currently discussing how to respond to the government letter," Tikait said.

The sixth round of talks on December 9 was cancelled.

In the letter to 40 union leaders, the Agriculture Ministry Joint Secretary Vivek Aggarwal on Sunday asked them to specify their concerns over its earlier proposal of amendments in the laws and choose a convenient date for the next round of talks so that the ongoing agitation could end at the earliest.

"There is nothing new in their letter. We have already rejected the government's proposal to amend the new farm laws. In its letter, the government has asked us to discuss its proposal and convey a date to it for another round of talks.

"Don't they know our demand? We just want a complete repeal of the new agriculture laws," another farmer leader Abhimanyu Kohar said.

In the letter, the Union Agriculture Joint Secretary said the Centre is making all efforts with "an open heart" to find an appropriate solution to resolve all concerns raised by farmers.

The officer added that in its draft proposal sent on December 9, the government had proposed to make necessary amendments on at least seven issues, including providing a "written assurance" to the farmers that the existing Minimum Support Price (MSP) system would continue.

Thousands of farmers have been camping at several Delhi border points against the new farm laws for more than three weeks now.

Eleven farmer union leaders sat on a hunger strike on Monday for 24 hours, also urging citizens to skip a meal on December 23 on the occasion of 'Kisan Diwas'.

"On December 25, 26 and 27 Haryana tolls will be made free. On December 27, when Prime Minister Modi attends 'Mann ki Baat', we will ask people to beat 'thalis' and clap the same way people did during Covid. It will be a protest of a similar kind," said another farmer leader Manpreet Singh.

The farmer leaders are expected to meet on Tuesday to discuss the next plan of action, said Gurmeet Singh of Krantikari Kisan Union.

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