Mumbai: Former Union Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar lashed out at the BJP-led Government at the Centre for being insensitive towards the agitating farmers at the Delhi border, demanding a repeal of the farm laws and legal cover for minimum support price. "Is Punjab Pakistan?" Pawar asked farmers affiliated with the All India Kisan Sabha and other organisations, whose members had travelled 180 km on foot and in vehicles, all the way from Nashik to Mumbai's Azad Maidan.
Pawar hailed the farmers' gesture of coming all the way to Mumbai to show solidarity with their ilk gathered at the national capital and gearing up for a massive tractor rally. However, he strongly condemned the Centre’s view of the agitators.
"We have been seeing, for the past 60 days, without bothering about the cold, sun, or rain, farmers from UP, Haryana, and Punjab have been protesting. They (Centre) say these are Punjab farmers. Is Punjab Pakistan? These are our own," said Pawar. He accused the Centre for not inquiring about the conditions of the farmers, who were weathering inclement conditions, steadfastly demanding the repeal of the new farm laws.
Pawar also led a scathing attack against Maharashtra Governor BS Koshyari saying that the latter had time to meet actor Kangana Ranaut but not farmers from the state who had wanted to submit a memorandum. The NCP chief took a dig at the governor, saying, "You are all going to the governor. But Maharashtra has not seen such a governor before. He has time to meet Kangana Ranaut but not farmers. He should have been here to speak to you but he is not."
Farm leaders Ashok Dhawale and Ajit Nawale claimed that the governor had left Mumbai despite making an appointment to meet the delegation. They said the farmers would present their memorandum to the President of India.
However, the Raj Bhavan issued a release late in the evening saying that the governor was not slated to meet the delegation on Monday as he was going to be in Goa, to address the first session of the state legislature. ‘‘It was communicated to Samyukta Shetkari Morcha leader Dhananjay Shinde and convener Prakash Reddi through letters about the governor's unavailability in Mumbai. Shinde, through WhatsApp, had confirmed the receipt of the governor’s letter,’’ said the Raj Bhavan release.
Earlier, Pawar said, "This government is trying to destroy farmers. And you have shown by your strength that you can topple such a government."
He further said the Centre could pass any law undermining the Constitution of India because of its roaring majority but once the common man and farmers arose, it would be hard to silence them until the new farm acts and the ruling party were destroyed. "We said send the laws to a select committee for detailed discussion. But the Central Government said, 'No discussion. We came with this and we will pass it without discussion. You all have come here to support. It was an insult to the Constitution," he said and pointed at how the farmers had turned the tables on the government.