Eastern Times: December 8, 2020,New Delhi: After the day long countrywide bandh called by the farmers ended successfully with normal activity coming to a halt in many places, home minister Amit Shah met with the protesting farmers on Tuesday evening, raising hopes for the standoff to be resolved, a day before a sixth round of meeting for negotiations between the two sides scheduled for Wednesday.
The meeting venue has been moved to the Pusa agricultural institute campus, reportedly to restrict media attention.
Shah’s invitation, indicating that the government is engaging with the farmers at the highest level, came as a nationwide shutdown or Bharat Bandh called by protesting farmers hit road and rail traffic in many parts of the country, blocked many highways and shut down markets, affecting supplies.
“I received a phone call. Amit Shah has called a meeting. We have been called at 7 pm,” said farmer leader Rakesh Tikait, before the meeting.
Mr Tikait said various representatives of farmer groups protesting on the highways near Delhi would attend the meeting.
“There is no midway. We will demand just ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from the home minister at today’s meeting,” farmer leader Rudru Singh Mansa told reporters at the Singhu border where they are camping, before the crucial talks.
At least 19 parties including Congress, NCP, Aam Aadmi Party, DMK and TRS, TMC, have backed Tuesday’s strike call and backed the demands put forward by the farmers.
They will meet with President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday to convey their stand and concerns.
A meeting last Friday between the Centre and farmers failed to end the deadlock after seven hours of talking. Farmer groups said they would not accept anything short of the scrapping of three new laws enacted in September, which they fear will reduce their earnings and leave them at the mercy of corporates.
Union agriculture minister Narendra Tomar, who led the negotiations, said the government “has no ego” but made it clear that the government was ready to offer anything but repeal the laws.
“The government suggested an amendment in all three laws. But the farmers’ organisations unanimously said all the three laws should be repealed.
The government assured that they can consider new laws on Minimum Support Price,” said Balkaran Singh Brar, a leader of All-India Kisan Sabha.