Farmers’ protests: BJP leaders accuse oppn of stoking unrest, “shameful” double standards; NCP, Left hit back

Leaders of the BJP on Monday accused the opposition of “shameful double standards” and stoking unrest over its support to the protests by farmers against the new farm laws and also sought to corner NCP chief Sharad Pawar claiming that as the Union agriculture minister he had pushed for similar changes.
As the BJP leaders including chief ministers claimed that parties like the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party(NCP) had once supported what are now key provisions of the new laws, the NCP accused the saffron party of circulating letters of Pawar randomly to “confuse” people after it declared support to farmers agitating against the three new laws.
Taking note of the backing given by the opposition parties to the protesting farmer unions’ call for ‘Bharat Bandh’ on Tuesday, senior BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said they have joined the agitation in a bid to save their existence after being repeatedly rejected by people in different elections across the country.
Battling existential crisis, the opposition was conspiring to create “unrest” by misleading people over the issue, he alleged.
Prasad’s party colleagues–Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis–also accused the non-BJP parties of supporting the bandh to cause “anarchy”.
Prasad said a section of farmers has fallen into the grip of some people with “vested interests”, and asserted that the government was working to address their misgivings about the reforms, which have drawn strong protests from different groups of cultivators, especially from Punjab.
He told reporters in Delhi that the Congress’ manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls had promised repeal of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee(APMC) Act and make agri-trade free from all restrictions.
“In 2013, Rahul Gandhi had given direction to all the chief ministers of Congress-ruled states to delist fruits and vegetables from the APMC and allow them to sell it directly in the open market,” Prasad said.
Prasad also said Pawar had written as the Union agriculture minister in the UPA government to chief ministers, strongly advocating for greater participation of the private sector in the farm sector and highlighting the need for making suitable regulatory and policy changes for that.
“In a 2005 interview, Sharad Pawar had said the APMC Act will be abolished in six months. He had further said that the states would not get financial support from the Centre unless they are ready to amend the Act and allow the private sector to enter the field,” he said, adding the laws enacted by the Modi government have made way for what the Congress and the NCP once called for.
“Now they are opposing what they had been working to do when in power. This exposes their shameful double standards. This is opposition for the sake of opposition,” Prasad said, slamming the BJP’s rivals.
The NCP said that Pawar as the agriculture minister persuaded many ‘reluctant’ states to implement the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government’s model APMC Act.
Speaking to reporters in Mumbai, NCP spokesperson and Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik said Pawar took decisions with consensus and never imposed them on states.
“After the NCP declared support (to farmers stir), the people of BJP have circulated some letters, claiming Pawar saheb himself was encouraging privatisation.
“The people in the BJP feel that farmers somewhere can trouble the government. Hence, some random papers are being circulated to confuse the people,” Malik said.
NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said the model APMC Act, 2003, brought by the Vajpayee government did not find favour with many states who were reluctant to implement it at that point of time.
After assuming charge as the Union agriculture minister in 2004, Pawar tried to form a broader consensus amongst State Agriculture Marketing Boards by inviting suggestions for the implementation of the said Act, Tapase added.
Pawar is scheduled to meet President Ram Nath Kovind on December 9 over the ongoing farmers’ protest against the new agri-marketing laws.
The NCP president on Sunday asked the Centre to take serious cognisance of the ongoing farmers’ protest and said if the deadlock continues, the agitation will not be limited to Delhi and people from across the country will stand by the protesting farmers.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath came down heavily on opposition parties for “politicising” farm bills, accusing them of using the innocent farmers to serve their petty political interests.
“During the Congress-led UPA government, the then agriculture minister Sharad Pawar had sent a letter to different states that APMC needs amendment and GoI is preparing a model act for the purpose,” Adityanath said, expressing surprise how the Congress, NCP and the parties which had supported them then have now gone back on it.
“It is an example of their double character and how they are firing from the shoulder of innocent farmers to create anarchy and disorder,” he said, adding that opposition parties are betraying spirit of values, ideologies and principles in politics by unleashing anarchy in the name of opposing farm bills.
Adityanath told a news conference in Lucknow that the election manifesto of these parties also needs to be looked at. “Congress manifesto in 2019 had clearly advocated amending the APMC act and doing away with mandis but when the Modi government took a step in this direction they are out to spread anarchy and disorder.” The country has given a reply to the double speak of these parties and they should apologise to the people , he said.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan alleged that opposition parties like the Congress and DMK could not fight the BJP face to face and were therefore opposing the farm laws. He was addressing BJP supporters at the conclusion of ‘Vel Yatra’ in Tiruchendur organised by the party’s Tamil Nadu unit.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani hit out at the Congress over Tuesday’s bandh, and said state’s farmers will not back a ‘political agitation’ being organised against the Modi government in their name. misleading people, spreading misinformation about opposition.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury lashed out at the BJP for allegedly misleading the people of the country and spreading misinformation about the opposition parties who have shown solidarity with the farmers.
‘The BJP should stop trying to mislead the people and spread misinformation,” said Yechury.
“Mr Prasad mentioned that all these parties which were part of the UPA had supported such a law, I want to make it clear that as long as the Left parties were supporting there was nothing like this that was discussed, this is absolute untruth.” Punjab Congress President Sunil Jakhar said the farmers were justified in opposing what he alleged was “corporatisation of agriculture” and urged all sections of people and political parties to support the Bharat Bandh, blaming the government for bringing the matters to such a pass.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, while addressing a rally in West Midnapore, slammed the BJP government at the Centre for its “arrogance and indifference” towards the plight of farmers, She contended that the central government should immediately withdraw the “anti-people” farm laws or step down.