Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 24
The government’s strategy for the day was set much before farmers’ unions walked in the conference hall for the eleventh round of talks. While asking unions to reconsider its “best offer” on the three contentious farm laws, the BJP-led center on Friday also made public a video of Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s stern message to them where he was seen outlining ethics for such discussions.
As he called the curtains on the meeting, Tomar was also seen acknowledging the role of Punjab government officials in the center’s talks with the unions. Congress’ Amarinder Singh-led Punjab government had last year countered the Narendra Modi-led center’s three farm laws.
Tomar said: “I am happy that during this entire course (of discussions) Central and Punjab government officials helped us by being present during the talks… so that they could become a bridge between us (the center and unions) and find a solution, the hard work that was expected from them they put in that. For that, I am thankful to the central government and Punjab government officials. ”
Notably, the four-hour-plus meeting yesterday saw discussions for barely 30 minutes (some 20-odd minutes before the break and around 10 minutes after that when Tomar made his statement). If unions believe that during the three-hour-plus long break the government was considering giving them another offer, they are mistaken. The government wanted to give them some more time to reconsider their decision, officials say.
Sources say the government’s strategy for the day was set soon after the farm unions went public with their decision to not accept its proposal of 18-month suspension of the three contentious laws. Tomar also made clear “his angst” over the unions’ decision to do when a meeting had been planned between them and the government.
While making clear that suspension of laws was the “best offer” he had for them, Tomar also gave the unions a talk on the ethics of negotiations between two sides. “Normally, no new agitation is announced during the talks… ..However, you (unions) kept coming for talks and also kept declaring new agitations”. In another strong observation on their current status, he said: “They could not move forward because the vision that should have been there during the discussions was lacking”. Later, he also told the media that “resolution is not possible when sanctity / purity of an agitation is lost”.