PM Modi
PM Modi

Mumbai: The NCP on Sunday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should clarify on the claims of some Union ministers that the ongoing farmers' protest against the new agri laws has the backing of Pakistan, China and Maoists.

NCP spokesman Mahesh Tapase said instead of sympathetically considering demands of the protesting farmers, Union ministers Raosaheb Danve and Piyush Goyal have made "controversial remarks to discredit the agitation".

The Sharad Pawar-led party is a constituent in the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state, along with the Congress.

Goyal on Saturday said the agitation no longer remains a farmers' movement as it has been "infiltrated by Leftist and Maoist elements" demanding the release of those put behind bars for "anti-national activities".

This was clearly to derail agriculture reforms brought by the government, he said.

Danve recently stirred a controversy with his remarks that China and Pakistan were behind the protests being staged by cultivators, inviting sharp reactions from various quarters.

Taking a dig at the BJP on Danve's remarks, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has asked the Centre to conduct a "surgical strike".

Seeking to distance the BJP from Danve's remarks, Union minister and RPI (A) leader Ramdas Athawale told reporters in Nagpur that Danve's claim of China and Pakistan being behind the farmers' protest is "not the government's stand".

"Besides, Pakistan and China's hands cannot reach till here," he said.

Reacting to Goyal's statement, Athawale said it was important to inquire if such people, who have no relation with the farmers' protest, have joined the protesters.

He said the farmers and government should take two steps back and then try to move ahead on the issue.

"Danve said the protest has the backing of Pakistan and China, while Goyal has alleged that Maoists are supporting the stir. Prime Minister Narendra Modi should clarify if these claims are true," NCP spokesperson Tapase said in a statement.

He said cultivators are demanding that the new farm laws be withdrawn, but the government is unrelenting.

Farmers have been protesting against the the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.

Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country.

However, 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.

Speaking to reporters in Nashik on Saturday, Raut targeted the BJP over Danve's remarks.

"The BJP is saying that Pakistan and China are behind the farmers' agitation in New Delhi. Defence Minister belongs to the BJP. The BJP should conduct a surgical strike in this regard," he said.

The Rajya Sabha MP said the agitating farmers hailing from Punjab and Haryana have stood their ground despite the use of force by the Union government.

"If the Union government takes two steps backward for the welfare of farmers, it will not lower its value. The government should retreat and hold discussions on the farm laws in the Lok Sabha again and re-introduce these laws as per the expectations of the farmers," Raut added.

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Free Press Journal