The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Monday clarified that party president Sharad Pawar was the agriculture minister during the UPA regime and he tried to form a broader consensus among state Agriculture Marketing Boards by inviting suggestions for implementation of the APMC Act. NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase pointed this out after government sources shared the content of letters Pawar wrote to many chief ministers when he was the Union minister.
"As Union Agriculture Minister, NCP National President Sharad Pawar tried to form a broader consensus among State Agriculture Marketing Boards by inviting suggestions for implementation of the Act. The benefit of farmers as per the model APMC Act was explained (by Pawar) to various state governments and many state governments came forward to implement it," NCP said.
With Pawar backing farmers' protest against the contentious Agri reforms, government sources on Sunday pointed out that as the agriculture minister in the UPA dispensation he had asked chief ministers to amend the APMC Act in their states to allow the private sector to play an important role in the field.
Pawar in a 2010 letter to the then Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had said that the agriculture sector needs well-functioning markets to drive growth, employment, and economic prosperity in the rural area of the country. In a letter on similar lines to the then Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Pawar had underlined the need for investments in post-harvest and marketing infrastructure from the farm gate to the consumer and said: "private sector needs to play an important role in this regard".
Pawar was the agriculture, consumer affairs, food and public distribution minister in the Manmohan Singh-led government.
Meanwhile, NCP has extended support to the 'Bharat Bandh' called on December 8 by farmer unions against the new Agri laws. "The farmers of the country have disapproved the farm bills which were hastily passed by the Modi Govt. during the last Parliamentary session. Farmers all across the Nation had registered their strong protests but Modi Govt hurried passed the bill without referring it to the joint select committee as demanded by the opposition," NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said.
"The NCP expresses solidarity with the farmers of the country and hence extends its full support to Bharat Bandh of 8th December called by the farmers NCP National President Sharad Pawar Saheb will be meeting the President of India Shri Ramnath Kovindji along with other leaders of the opposition on Wednesday the 9th of December to discuss the situation and to seek a solution to diffuse the current crisis," Tapase added.
Pawar is scheduled to meet President Ram Nath Kovind on December 9 over the ongoing farmers' protest against the new agrarian laws after the NCP joined opposition parties in supporting the 'Bharat Bandh' called on December 8 by farmer unions, which have demanded the repeal of the Centre's new agri-marketing laws.
(Inputs from Agencies)