Centre sensitive to farmers’ demands but protesters have not given ‘concrete suggestions’, says Piyush Goyal

New Delhi: Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday said the government is ready to resume talks with the farmers protesting the new farm laws but asserted that despite repeated proposals, the protesters have not come up with any "concrete suggestion" so far.

Reiterating Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal to farmer unions that the government was "just a phone away" to discuss any issues raised by them, Goyal said "but for that somebody at least has to make call so that we can move forward".

"This government is sensitive towards farmers' issues. The PM and the government is ready to discuss it with them. The PM even said he was just a phone call away, but somebody at least has to call so that we can move forward," the minister said during a press conference.

He added that the farmers were being misled on a few issues and some people have been successful at confusing them.

"We even proposed to make the laws stricter through change of wordings, we proposed to suspend the laws for 18 months. We keep reading in news 'tareekh par tareekh' (date after date) but it should be 'prastav par prastav' (proposal after proposal). But we are yet to hear a concrete suggestion from the farmers," said Goyal, who is also the minister of Railways and Commerce and Industry.

The government has held 11 rounds of talks with farmer leaders, the last one being held on 22 January before the tractor parade on 26 January which ended in violent clashes between the police and the protestors.

The minister also condemned the act of hoisting a religious flag at the Red Fort during the tractor parade on Republic Day, calling it "unfortunate", while insisting that the government was ready to move past that and find a solution through dialogue.

He added that when the government brings a bill it is for the benefit of the people and if anyone has issues with it, they should bring it up instead of depriving others of it.

"There are crores of farmers in India, these laws will benefit them, especially the small farmers. We have looked into how to improve their income. We understand these will only benefit the farmer, if you have issues we can discuss but why deprive the rest of them from its benefits," the minister added.



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