MUMBAI: NCP president and former Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Monday lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not talking to the agitating farmers directly.
Addressing a march of farmers in Mumbai, the veteran leader said farmers from Punjab and Haryana have been protesting in Delhi’s chilling weather for last 60 days, yet the Prime Minister has no time to speak with them.
“Punjab is not Pakistan. They have protected our land. Farmers in Punjab and Haryana produce and supply ample food grains to us. Why the PM has no time to talk with them? Farmers want to repeal the farm laws but the government remains adamant,” he said.
Taking a dig at Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who went to Goa on the day the farmers planned to meet him, Pawar said the governor has no time to meet the farmers, who walked to Mumbai in protest against the farm laws, but has time to meet actor Kangana Ranaut.
Pawar said a large number of farmers had come in Mumbai to press their demands and planned to submit a charter of demands to the governor.
“But the governor has no time for farmers but he has all time for Kangna Ranaut. Farmers are in Mumbai and our governor is in Goa. This must be happening the first time in the history of independent India,” the senior politician said.
Ajit Nawale, a farmer leader and the secretary of All India Kisan Sabha, condemned the “arrogant” conduct of governor who “refused” to meet the farmers.
“In protest, we tore down the charter that we had planned to submit to the governor. The farmers came to Mumbai from different parts of the state. Many of them walked down all the way. It is unfortunate that no one in the government cares for the farmers who are actually the real backbone of the economy,” Nawale said.
However, an official statement from Maharashtra Raj Bhawan said they had already informed the farmer leaders that due to pre-scheduled appointments in Goa on Monday, the governor would not be available to meet them.
Maharashtra Revenue Minister and state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat, All India Kisan Sabha general secretary Hannan Mollah and others also addressed the rally held at the Azad Maidan in south Mumbai.
You may pass any law undermining the Constitution, not keeping in with the reputation of Parliament and destroying the Parliamentary system on the back of your majority.
But remember one thing, once the common man and farmers of the country rise, whether you withdraw the laws or not, they will not keep quiet until they destroy you and the law, Pawar said during the rally.
Pawar alleged that the farm laws were passed without detailed discussion in Parliament despite the opposition parties demanding deliberations on the bills concerned.
The bills could have been discussed by a select committee, but it did not happen, he said.
"People (leaders from opposition) opposed it. But the laws were declared passed without discussion.This is the insult of the Constitution, he alleged.
He said the farmers fight is not easy as those who are in power are not affectionate towards the protesters.
Pawar hailed the farmers from Punjab for their contribution in the countrys freedom struggle and protecting it during the wars against China and Pakistan post- independence.
Speaking at the rally, Thorat termed the farmers stir near Delhi as unprecedented.
The farm laws are for capitalists, hoarders and profiteers.
the laws were passed without discussion, the Maharashtra minister alleged.
Thorat claimed there will be no MSP and market committees (APMCs) once the farm laws are implemented.
The Congress leader said the Maharashtra government wants to pass laws which will be in the interest of farmers.
No Shiv Sena leader or minister was seen at the rally, but the farmers' bodies claimed the ruling party had extended its support to the agitation.
The Shiv Sena heads the MVA government in which the Congress and the NCP are partners.
The new agri laws seek to encourage private trade, contract farming and remove stock limit on foodgrains.
The protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.
(With PTI Inputs)