The Opposition on Friday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his allegations that vested interests were misleading farmer protests, with the Congress party asking the PM to apologise to farmers for enacting three contentious agriculture laws that have sparked protests.
“Instead of inventing excuses, indulging in event management, the Modi Government should seek apologize to the farmers and should immediately withdraw these three black laws,” Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.
The party’s attack came on a day the PM interacted with farmers and strongly defended the three laws, blaming Opposition parties of hijacking the protests and misleading cultivators. The PM also pointedly accused the West Bengal government of denying central government benefits to seven million farmers in the state.
Hours later, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee hit back. “While he (PM Modi) publicly claimed his intention to help farmers of WB (West Bengal) through his PM Kisan Yojana and alleges non-cooperation of the state government, the fact is that he is trying to mislead the people with half-truth and distorted facts,” Banerjee said.
The Bengal government was always ready to cooperate in the interest of farmers, she added.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed the laws will harm farmers. “BJP says that these laws will not harm farmers. But what is their benefit? …The truth is that these laws will do a lot of harm and don’t have a single benefit,” Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MPs Sanjay Singh and Bhagwant Mann raised slogans in the presence of the PM, demanding the repeal of the farm laws. The incident took place in the Central Hall of Parliament when Modi arrived to pay floral tributes to Madan Mohan Malaviya and former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee on their birth anniversaries.
Surjewala said that the central government was the enemy of farmers. “The bitter truth is that it is taking shelter behind political dishonesty, slyness and dramatics is not at all interested in solving the problems of farmers. The Prime Minister Modi who dug roads, attacked farmers with water cannons and lathi charge is today indulging in the drama of ‘Samman Nidhi’,” he said.
He slammed the government for calling farmers “terrorists, parasite, tukde-tukde gang, misguided gang, and khalistanis”.
“Modi Ji, it is a matter of deep anguish that the farmers whom you are treating with cruelty and apathy, they are the same people, who brought you to this throne and this position of glory,” Surjewala said. “Today, this BJP is branding these farmers brothers as terrorists, parasite, tukde-tukde gang, misguided gang, khalistani and misguided lot. It is shameful that the minister of agriculture has gone to the extent of calling them political puppets in his letters.”