Pawar: Govt bulldozed three farm laws; agriculture can't be run sitting in Delhi
New Delhi: NCP supremo and former agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Tuesday accused the Centre of bulldozing three new farm laws without consulting states and asserted that agriculture cannot be run "sitting in Delhi" as it involves farmers toiling in distant villages.
As farmers' protest on Delhi borders against these laws has entered its second month and five rounds of talks so far have failed to resolve the crisis, Pawar also raised questions about the composition of the three-member ministerial group negotiating with the unions, saying the ruling party should have put forward leaders with "in-depth" understanding of agriculture and farmers' issues.
The former union minister said the government needs to take the protests seriously and it was "unfair" on the part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to blame opposition parties for the agitation by farmers.
He said opposition parties will take a call on their future course of action on Wednesday if the government fails to resolve farmers' issue in the next scheduled meeting with representatives of 40 protesting unions.
On Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar's claim that Pawar as the then agriculture minister during the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government also wanted farm reforms but failed to do so due to political pressure, the NCP leader said he certainly wanted to bring some reforms in the sector but "not in the way" BJP government has done, and they were different from the current ones.
Pawar said he consulted all state governments before initiating the reforms and didn't move forward until all their reservations were resolved.
"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.
The ministers of some states had some strong reservations about the reforms and before taking a final decision, the agriculture ministry at that time again wrote to state governments seeking their opinion, he said. Pawar, who has served as Union Agriculture Minister twice, said agriculture is a rural phenomenon and it requires consultation with states.