Mumbai: After Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar’s letters of 2010 and 2011 in his capacity as the then Union Agriculture Minister went viral on social media, the NCP has issued a strongly worded clarification, saying he had tried to form broader consensus among the state agriculture marketing committees by inviting suggestions and objections for the implementation of the APMC Act.
Pawar had never tried to impose any Act as has been done by the BJP-led government at the Centre, which passed the three farm laws in haste. The NCP alleged it was the BJP’s usual style of diverting public attention from the farmers’ protest.
The NCP said the letters were written by Pawar to former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit and Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Chouhan. "The Model APMC Act, 2003, was introduced by the Vajpayee government. However, many state governments were reluctant to implement it at that point of time," the party added.
‘‘The BJP is not a party of farmers but a party that loots farmers’ goods,’’ it claimed.
The Modi-led government has raised doubts and created insecurity in the minds of farmers regarding issues like the minimum support price, the NCP said.
Former Union minister and veteran NCP leader Praful Patel clarified, his party had not supported the new farm laws in Parliament, adding they were introduced without discussions with anyone. ‘‘There is no clarity on the future of the APMC set-up or the minimum support price (MSP) mechanism, nor on what farmers can do to get justice in case they face a loss and contracts are not honoured by traders and private companies,’’ he said.
On the other hand, NCP national spokesman and Maharashtra Minister of Minorities Affairs Nawab Malik slammed the BJP for its timing the leak of Pawar’s letters, immediately after the party extended support to the Bharat Bandh. ‘‘The letter that BJP has made viral was 165 pages long. But people are deliberately misled by releasing just two pages,’’ he alleged.
‘‘The farm laws enacted by the Centre have made the APMCs insignificant and there is no assurance on the payment of minimum support price to the farmers. Now, after the farmers have launched an agitation, the Centre clarifies that the MSP provision has not been touched. But the government is governed by law, and not by words,’’ said Malik.
Pawar is scheduled to meet President Ram Nath Kovind on December 9, over the ongoing farmers' protest against the new farm laws.
On Sunday, Pawar had asked the Centre to take serious cognisance of the ongoing farmers' protest and said if the deadlock were to continue, the agitation would not be limited to Delhi and people from across the country would stand by the protesting farmers.
State NCP spokesman Mahesh Tapase snubbed the BJP for spreading misinformation by saying that "the benefit for farmers as per the model APMC Act was explained (by Pawar) to various state governments and many state governments came forward to implement it. Farmers across the country are gaining from the implementation of the Act, which was fine-tuned by Pawar to protect farmers' interests."