New Delhi: The farmer agitation hardly remains a farmer agitation anymore and is being infiltrated by Maoist and Leftist elements, Commerce and industry Minister Piyush Goyal said Saturday.
He alleged that the efforts to derail the farm law improvements are in the hands of “certain elements” who are not working for the “good of India.”
Goyal, who holds the additional charge of the ministries of Railways and Food and Consumer Affairs, has been at the forefront of the government’s talks with the farmer unions along with Agricultural Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
For about a fortnight now, farmers from Punjab and Haryana have been camping at Delhi’s borders, seeking the repealing of three farm laws that were passed by Parliament in September. They contend that the three bills bring in corporatisation of agriculture by removing state-controlled markets, and fear the laws will not ensure them a fair price for their produce.
“There are times when vested interests try to scuttle reforms. We now realise that the so-called farmer agitation hardly remains a farmer agitation. It has almost got infiltrated by Leftist and Maoist elements,” Goyal said while speaking at an event at Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry.
He pointed out how the farmer’s agitation is being used to raise demands for release of people imprisoned for anti-national or illegal activities.
“The demands raised on a farmers’ platform to release the so-called intellectuals and poets clearly demonstrates that the efforts to derail farm law improvements is probably in the hands of certain elements not for the good of India,” said Goyal.
Goyal calls for ‘information campaigns’
Goyal urged the industry to conduct information campaigns about the benefits of the new farm laws in the areas of their operation, and help allay concerns raised by farmers. He also reiterated the government’s commitment to protect farmer interests.
“These laws are for the benefit of nearly 100 million farmers across the country. This is a government which has doubled procurement under the MSP (minimum support price), which is wrongly portrayed to be under danger,” he said
“This is a government which has increased the size of the agri-budget six times. This is a government committed to doubling farmer incomes. These laws are but one aspect of the overall efforts we have done in this direction,” he added.
Goyal further said the farm laws open up new opportunities but without touching old laws.
The repeal of the three laws — Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act , 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020 — is the main demand of the farmers, who began protesting almost immediately after the laws were passed.
The government has offered some amendments, such as an assured MSP built into the law, but farmers have rejected this. Talks so far have remained inconclusive.