Govt open for discussions, FM Sitharaman on farmer agitation

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New Delhi, Feb 1 (PTI) Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said the government is ready for talks with the protesting farmers on the three farm laws as discussion is the only way forward.

Thousands of farmers are protesting on key entry points to the national capital for over two months, demanding the repeal of the three farm laws and legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP) on crops.

'We can understand why farmers are sitting at the border. If any farmer has any question, Agriculture Minister (Narendra Singh Tomar) has never denied opportunities for talk,' Sitharaman said in reply to a query during her post Budget briefing.

The minister said Tomar has had several rounds of discussions with farmers and also asked to them to come up with clause by clause suggestion on all the three legislations.

'Therefore, I think, discussion is the only solution. The government is open for discussion. The Prime Minister before the commencement of Parliament session said that the offer is still on the table,' she said.

Farmers who have doubts and confusion should come forward and speak to the government, she added.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary told reporters that some people are adding fuel to the fire for their narrow political gains and 'I believe farmers' unions will understand this'.

Referring to the Union Budget, he said the people can see what the Modi government is trying to do for farmers.

'I think they (farmers unions) will definitely compare and see what has been the allocation now and during the UPA regime,' he said.

He too stressed that solution will emerge through discussion only.

'Definitely the government has kept the doors open. Definitely, the solution will emerge if we sit and talk. I have full faith,' Choudhary added.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and parts of UP have been protesting at Delhi's borders for over two months now, demanding a rollback of the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

The government has offered some concessions, including keeping the new farm laws on hold for 1-1.5 years and the Supreme Court has set up a panel to look into the matter while keeping the contentious legislation in abeyance for two months.

However, the agitating farmer unions have rejected both and intensified their stir. PTI DP LUX NKD CS BAL