Don't test tolerance of farmers: Sharad Pawar tells Centre

Dont test tolerance of farmers: Sharad Pawar tells Centre

Mumbai: Amid the ongoing protest by farmers against the Centre's new agriculture laws, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Friday asked the government not to test the tolerance of the cultivators. Talking to reporters, the former Union agriculture minister also said that the protest at Delhi borders may spread elsewhere if no timely decision was taken by the Centre on the farmers' demands.

He maintained that the farm bills concerned were passed in a "hurried" manner in the Parliament despite the opposition parties calling for a detailed discussion on them.

Farmers from different states have been camping at Delhi's Singhu, Tikri, Ghazipur and Chilla (Delhi-Noida) border points for nearly two weeks to demand a repeal of the farm laws enacted in September.

Farmers say these laws will eliminate the safety net of minimum support price (MSP) and do away with mandis that ensure earning. But the government says the MSP system will continue and the new laws will give farmers more options to sell their crop.

"Today, farmers have made the extreme demand of withdrawing the laws first and said the issue can be discussed later. The Centre's position on the same, however, does not seem to be favourable. Hence, there are signs that the deadlock may continue for some more days," Pawar said.

The veteran leader said that more people travelling in around 700 tractors joined the ongoing protest near Delhi border on Friday morning.

"The protest is restricted to Delhi border. But it cannot be ruled out that it may spread elsewhere too if no decision is taken in time.

"We insist the Government of India that the farmer is the 'annadata' (food provider) of the country, his tolerance should not be tested," he added.

Pawar also refuted speculations made in a section of media on Thursday about him becoming the chairman of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). "It was a false news. Do not run such false news," he said in response to a query.

Pawar also criticised Union minister Raosaheb Danve over his "China and Pakistan behind farmers' protest" remark, saying that such comments should not be given importance.

"Some people are such that they do not have the sense of what should be said where and how. He had made such statements in the past too," Pawar said.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attacked the government, alleging that it wants the income of farmers in the country to be as low as that earned by those in Bihar.

The former party chief cited a media report that claimed that an agricultural household in Punjab earns the highest in a year, while it was lowest in Bihar. "The farmer wants his income to be as much as that of farmers of Punjab. The Modi government wants the income of all farmers of the country to be as much as that of Bihar farmers," Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.

The survey cited by Gandhi showed that an average Indian agricultural household earns Rs 77,124 in a year, with Punjab farmers earning Rs 2,16,708 annually and that of Bihar only Rs 42,684.

Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav on Friday accused the BJP of adopting a "heartless attitude" towards the demands of farmers and said the global response to their protest has "deeply" hurt the image of India worldwide.

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