Modi govt’s indifference towards farmers’ plight responsible for events in Delhi: Opposition leaders

NCP president Sharad Pawar, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and leaders of Left parties have strongly urged the Centre to engage with the farmers and repeal the new farm laws

NH Photo by Vipin
NH Photo by Vipin
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NH Web Desk

In the wake of violence during the farmers' tractor parade, NCP president Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said what happened in Delhi is indefensible, but one also cannot ignore reasons which led to the situation as he warned against use of force on protesters.

The former Union Agriculture Minister asked the Centre to hold a dialogue with cultivators seeking scrapping of the new agri-marketing laws giving up its "extreme position" on the issue.

Interacting with media persons in Mumbai, Pawar said Punjab may head towards restlessness if the Centre uses force against protesters and asked the Modi government to ‘not commit that sin’.

The farmers organised tractor rally; it was expected of the Centre and those responsible for law and order then to deal with them sensibly. But it did not happen is obvious, Pawar said.

Pawar said a way out should have been found over the farmers’ demands without hurting the protesters who have been agitating for two months.

The NCP leader said from the information he has received, strict conditions were imposed on the protesters before they took out the tractor rally. It was required to deal with the protesters keeping in mind their 50-60 days agitation and their patience. But a different view was held (by the authorities) and hence, the situation has deteriorated.

“None can defend what is happening there today. But we also cannot ignore why it is happening,” Pawar said.

Pawar said it was the responsibility of the Centre to note why the farmers who were protesting peacefully till now turned angry and added the government should have handled the agitators accordingly.

“But it did not happen and the situation deteriorated,” Pawar said.

“It is my expectation that the Centre shows prudence and gives up its extreme position on the issue while holding dialogue with these (farmers) bodies,” he said, adding, “It should hold a dialogue. It should think of their demands seriously and take a suitable decision”.

He said Punjab may head towards restlessness if the Centre uses force against the agitators. “If this is not done (dialogue is not held) and if we (the Centre) try to use force, then Punjab -- which was restless once upon a time, but has recovered -- may head towards restlessness and the Modi government should not commit that sin,” Pawar said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the Centre's "insensitive attitude" and indifference towards farmers are to be blamed for the violent protests in Delhi, maintaining that she was deeply disturbed by the situation. Banerjee urged the Centre to engage with the farmers and repeal the new farm laws, which she termed ‘draconian’.

"Deeply disturbed by worrying and painful developments that have unfolded on the streets of Delhi. Centre's insensitive attitude and indifference towards our farmer brothers and sisters has to be blamed for this situation," she tweeted.

Banerjee said, "First, these laws were passed without taking farmers in confidence. And then despite protests across India and farmers camping near Delhi for last 2 months, they've (Centre) been extremely casual in dealing with them."

"Centre should engage with the farmers and repeal the draconian laws," she added.

Senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that the Delhi Police attacked the farmers without any provocation. "This shows the unsympathetic attitude of the BJP government to the problems faced by the small and marginal farmers," he said.

Left leaders too condemned the violence that broke out on the streets of the capital during the tractor rally of farmers, but squarely blamed the government for letting the situation deteriorate.

"The situation has been brought to this pass by the Modi government. Farmers have been protesting peacefully in the cold for more than 60 days, not allowed to come into Delhi and more than 100 kisans are dead," CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said in a tweet.

"Violence in no form is an answer & is unacceptable. A govt which smears dissent, BJP's troll army vilify those who ask for their rights, ministers make wild allegations, law officers make claims without basis in court -- this is no way to deal with legitimate demands of our Kisans," he said.

Yechury further said the three farm laws must be immediately repealed and the announcement of that should be made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.

"The Republic is of the public. The tantra (establishment) in Ganatantra has no meaning without the gana (the people). The protests are for a legitimate demand of millions of our farmers from various states across the country. That remains the issue at hand, and must be resolved. The solution is clear - repeal these farm laws," he said.

CPI general secretary D Raja too said violence was no way for either party to deal with the situation, but also blamed the Centre for letting things go out of hand.

"The farmers have been agitating for almost 60 days and it has been peaceful and nonviolent. When they were stopped at the borders, they sat there. Now after negotiations, they were allowed to have the rally on agreed routes, then why did the police not ensure that they took the designated path? The incident should have been averted. For this it is the government that is to blame," he said.

"The government should have assured the farmers that in the forthcoming parliament session they will move bill to withdraw the three laws. Modi should be blamed for letting farmers be treated like this. The farmers have said that the laws are not in the interest of the country, but for the corporates," Raja said.

CPI-ML general secretary, Dipankar Bhattacharya congratulated the farmers on their tractor rally and appealed to them to continue their struggle without getting provoked.

"The sporadic incidents that disturbed this dominant picture, are primarily due to the adamant attitude of the Modi regime and the repression unleashed by its police against the farmers," he said in a statement.

"The Modi regime has forced farmers to camp at Delhi's borders for two months in the cold weather, resulting in the deaths of more than 70 farmers at the protest sites. Even in the face of this, the movement has displayed remarkable patience and restraint, occasional expressions of restlessness notwithstanding."

Bhattacharya said the Modi regime must not be allowed to spin a narrative blaming and demonising farmers. "We must all refuse to allow the issue to be diverted away from the demand to repeal the three farm laws. We appeal to the farmers to resume their agitation without getting provoked and diverted, and pledge our unflinching support and cooperation for their just movement," he said.

Senior CPI(M) leader Md Salim said, "Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are responsible for today's turn of events for their unresponsive attitude to the justified demands of the farmers."

He said the Left will continue to be on the side of the agitating farmers.

Farmers' umbrella body Samyukta Kisan Morcha has disassociated itself from those who indulged in violence during the tractor parade on Tuesday, and alleged that some "antisocial elements" infiltrated their otherwise peaceful movement.

The union also condemned and regretted the "undesirable" and "unacceptable" events as the parade turned violent after several groups of farmers deviated from the pre-decided route for the march.

(With PTI inputs)

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