‘Attempt to divide’: Farm leaders object to PM’s charge of political influence – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Protesting farm unions on Friday took strong objection to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charge that political rivals were misusing farmers protest to push their agenda.
“Parties rejected by the electorate are pushing their political agenda by misleading farmers and using their shoulders to fire at the government as they lack any logical argument against the new farm laws,” PM Modi said today after releasing over Rs 18,000 crore to more than nine crore farmer families under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi’ (PM-KISAN).
“Defeated in elections, these parties are now indulging in event management for selfies and are appearing on television for publicity,” he added.
The Prime Minister targeted the opposition and said when the agitation started farmers had some genuine demands like guaranteed minimum support price but people with political motives then took over and began making unrelated demands like the release of those accused of violence and making highways toll-free.
The farm leaders, however, alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address appeared as an attempt to “divide and mislead” the farmers and said they want a legal guarantee on minimum support price (MSP).
Reacting to Prime Minister’s allegations that political rivals were misusing the protest to push their agenda, farmer leader Abhimanyu Kohar said unions do not allow any political party to use their stage and accused the government of diverting the issue.
Kohar said, “The prime minister’s claim that we are being misguided by other political parties is false. It has been a month since we have been protesting at Delhi borders, and we have not offered our platform to any politician.
“In fact, we have banned them from using our stage. Our protest is not political.”
“In public speeches, the Prime Minister said the MSP will remain. Then why is he afraid of giving a legal guarantee for it? Why cannot the government give it in writing?,” Shiv Kumar Kakka, a senior leader of Sankyut Kisan Morcha — an umbrella body of 40 farmer unions — told news agency PTI.
“PM Modi made an attempt to divide and mislead the farmers during his address today…in election rallies, he says his government has fixed MSP as per the recommendations of the M S Swaminathan Committee. But in court, they say it was not possible to do so,” Kakka alleged.
All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee secretary Avik Saha sought to know why the central government is not giving a legal guarantee on MSP.
Saha said the Prime Minister on Friday only addressed farmers from six states and wondered why he did not address issues of protesting peasants.
Avtar Singh Mehma, state press secretary, Krantikari Kisan Union (Punjab), alleged that the government’s claim that some farmers are in support of the three laws is “false”.
“We had targeted political parties like the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the AAP before we came to Delhi. So how can we be misguided by these political parties?,” Mehma asked
Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of the MSP and do away with the “mandi” (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.
Centre does not want to solve farmers problems: Congress
The Congress alleged that the government did not want to solve farmers’ problem and was trying to “wear them down”.
“The entire country listened to Prime Minister Modi’s clarification on TV today. They say bigger the crime bigger the clarification and the Prime Minister is just doing that,” Surjewala said, claiming that the PM and his ministers are only giving “clarifications” without looking into the plight of farmers.
“For a month, farmers are protesting near Delhi’s borders in this cold weather. Forty-four of them have already died due to various reasons but the pro-capitalist government is not moved,” senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters here on Friday.
“The Prime Minister and the BJP government is working on the policy of wearing them down. The bitter truth is that the Modi government does not want to solve the farmers’ problem,” he claimed.
Surjewala said the ruling party leaders are branding farmers as “Naxals, terrorists, Chinese and Pakistan agents, tukde-tukde gang”.
The Congress stands shoulder-to-shoulder with farmers as it involved the question of lives and livelihoods of crores of farmers of this country, he said.
“This is not a political fight, this is not the BJP versus Congress fight, not opposition versus ruling party fight,” he said.
(With agency inputs)

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