Talks fail, farmers’ representatives walk out of meeting with Agriculture Secretary

New Delhi, October 14

Farmers’ organisations on Wednesday cried foul and walked out of a meeting held to discuss the contentious farm laws with Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal.

Farmers’ representatives Joginder Singh and Jagmohan Singh said that Union Ministers were holding meetings in Punjab and spreading “propaganda” even as the union leaders were called for a meeting with the Agriculture Secretary in New Delhi.

“At least Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar should have been present at the meeting,” one of the leaders said.

After a one-and-a-half-hour long meeting with Agarwal, the leader said: “They (union ministers) are doing propaganda in villages and here the minister was not even present.”

“We asked the secretary whether the government was really interested in resolving the issue before walking out,” he said, asserting that the agitation against the three farm laws will continue.

Meanwhile, government sources said that a second meeting was proposed in hope that common ground could be reached after the farmers’ organisations rejected the first offer.

Ahead of the scheduled meeting with Agriculture Ministry officials, representatives of farmers’ organisations had said they wanted to meet the Prime Minister and the Agriculture Minister to put forth their views regarding the new laws.

“We came for the meeting because we did not want to give the impression that farmers are not open to dialogue. But we also want to meet the Prime Minister and the Agriculture Minister,” said farmers’ representatives Dr Darshan Pal and Kulwant Singh Sandhu.

BKU leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said the farmers’ representatives will meet in Chandigarh on Thursday to discuss next course of action.

“He (Agriculture Secretary) kept saying he wants to act as a bridge and help etc. We asked why we were called when no minister is present to talk to us.

“On one side they called us here, and on the other side, union ministers are doing propaganda in Punjab. We told the Secretary Agriculture that this is not an agitation of Punjab alone. We are trying to hold a peaceful agitation while attempts are being made vitiate the atmosphere, ” Rajewal said.

Farmers also presented a memorandum of demands to the government.