Contradictions in BJP's farm policy: Sharad Pawar
NCP boss Sharad Pawar clarifies walk-out didn't support Centre, says his party stands against bills as Congress expects MVA partner's support in parliament
Following the Congress party's alleged disenchantment and speculations about the Maha Vikas Aghadi partners not being on the same page in protesting against the agriculture bills, Nationalist Congress Party boss Sharad Pawar clarified his party's position on Tuesday. He said the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) agriculture policy had contradictions. He also joined the Rajya Sabha members' hunger strike against RS deputy chairman Harivansh for not allowing the debate and suspending them.
'Did not support BJP'
Talking to media persons in Mumbai, Pawar said he was absent in the Rajya Sabha for the past two days because he was needed in Mumbai to decide the MVA's stand on securing quota for Marathas, which the Supreme Court has stayed. He denied reports that his party supported the BJP by walking out of the house when the bills were put to voice votes. "The information isn't true. Our members protested and walked out when the deputy chairman rushed through the bills. In the Lok Sabha, Supriya Sule has spoken against the bills. In fact, my assessment of the deputy chairman, who is a disciple of (a great socialist leader) Karpuri Thakur, was proved wrong today. His conduct was unprecedented. I haven't seen such a thing in my 50 year parliamentary career. That's why I have observed a fast today to support the MPs," said Pawar.
When asked about Shiv Sena's flip-flop - the MVA's leading party supported the bills in the Lok Sabha but opposed them in the Rajya Sabha - Pawar said he didn't know much about it. "But haven't they opposed it in the Rajya Sabha?" he asked.
'NCP with protesters'
Pawar said his party would officially announce its support to the nation-wide agitation by several parties and farmers' organisations. He questioned the need of passing the bills in haste. "Generally, the members are allowed to speak, deliberate and oppose the bills. I didn't understand the haste in this particular matter," he said, adding the basic concern was about mentioning the protection of minimum support price (MSP) in the bills. "Now the government has clarified that such a protection mechanism is there."
The Kisan Sabha, one of the biggest groups under the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sangharsh Samanvaya Samiti coalition, that boasts of over 3,00,000 members in Maharashtra and close to 3 crore nationwide, will hold protests across 21 districts against the bills in Maharashtra on September 25.
Questioning the provisions of inter-state trade, Pawar said the practice wasn't new to Maharashtra from where Alphonso mangoes, grapes and onions were sold to other states and overseas as well. "The BJP's policy is full of contradictions. It says the market was opened up and then bans the onion export. What portions do onions have in our daily meals? There is resentment because the matter was not debated. Now the government is advertising but it won't help (quell opposition to the bills)," said the Rajya Sabha MP.
Earlier in the day, state Congress president and minister Balasaheb Thorat expected better coordination and support from the partners in the parliament. "Our partners should go beyond party politics and oppose the bills which are anti-farmer. If you see the Centre's published propaganda material you will realise the hollowness of the legislation," he said.
Another Congress leader and minister Ashok Chavan asked the media persons to question the NCP and Sena about walk-outs. "We are together in the state and I think we should have been together in the Centre also. The Congress is fighting for the farmers. Every other like-minded party should support the good cause," said Chavan.
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