Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday criticised the Centre for excluding state governments and not consulting them on the three new contentious farm laws, which has triggered protests by farmers since the last one month.
The clearance of the laws has prompted thousands of farmers to camp on the borders of the national capital since November 26.
In a stinging remark, the NCP supremo said that the agriculture sector of the country cannot be run sitting in Delhi. “Agriculture can’t be run by sitting in Delhi as it involves hard-working farmers in villages and a bigger responsibility for this subject lies with state governments,” Pawar told news agency PTI.
Pawar also countered the charges by Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who has said that the NCP leader wanted to introduce the same legislation during the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government but couldn’t do so, owing to the political pressure.
“I and Manmohan Singh also wanted to bring some reforms in the agriculture sector but not in the same way as the current dispensation did. That time the agriculture ministry held long deliberations on the proposed reforms with agriculture ministers of all states and experts of the sector,” Pawar said.
“So, when a majority of agriculture ministers had some reservations, it was the duty of the central government and mine to take them in confidence and resolve their issues before moving ahead,” Pawar said.
Attacking the arrogance posed by the government while introducing the three farms law, Pawar said, “How can a government say in a democracy that it won’t listen or it won’t change its line? In a way, the government bulldozed these three bills.”
Had the Centre consulted state governments and taken them in confidence, then such a situation wouldn’t have arisen, Pawar said.
The NCP chief, whose party is a one-third stakeholder in the Maharashtra government, has also alleged that farmers are not a priority for the government. “If farmers would have been the priority of the government, this problem would not have continued for so long. Then they say there are farmers only from Haryana, Punjab and western Uttar Pradesh who are protesting,” Pawar said.
“Have they not contributed to the overall food security of the country?” Pawar asked.
Pawar’s remarks come following the Centre’s invite to protesting farmers for a meeting on Wednesday in Delhi to discuss the three farm laws after farmers’ unions agreed to restart negotiations with the government in a bid to resolve the stalemate. The invite comes amid one of the largest strikes by the farmers’ unions on the borders of the national capital in decades to demand that the Centre revoke the three laws approved by Parliament in September.