On Bharat Bandh eve, BJP, NCP spar over Pawar's 2010 letter

NCP President Sharad Pawar
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NCP President Sharad Pawar

Highlights

Hours before the farmers, trade unions and national parties-led 'Bharat Bandh', a bitter feud erupted between Maharashtra's ruling ally Nationalist Congress Party and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday.

Mumbai: Hours before the farmers, trade unions and national parties-led 'Bharat Bandh', a bitter feud erupted between Maharashtra's ruling ally Nationalist Congress Party and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday.

The latest row has been triggered by a 165-page letter written by NCP President Sharad Pawar in 2010 when he was the Union Agriculture Minister for the second time in the then UPA-II government.

Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis accused the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) of Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress - which have supported the 'Bharat Bandh' - of adopting "double standards" merely to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP-led NDA at the Centre.

"Bahut log behti Ganga mein haath dho rahe hain," said Fadnavis, while pointing out that at 8 states including Maharashtra are already implementing 2 or all the new farm laws in some way or the other.

Hitting back, the NCP said that when the Model APMC Act 2003 was introduced by the then NDA government of Prime Minister Atal Bihar Vajpayee, many Indian states were reluctant to implement it.

"When Pawar became the UPA Agriculture Minister, he attempted to form a broader consensus among the State Agriculture Marketing Boards by soliciting suggestions for implementing the Act," said NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase.

In a sharp attack, NCP national spokesperson Nawab Malik said that the BJP "is anti-farmer which is indulging in the loot of the farming community" through the 3 farm laws which farmers all over India are opposing.

Pawar's letter to the then Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Madhya Pradesh's Shivraj Singh Chouhan, urging states to permit the private sector to play an important role by amending the APMC Act in their states has gone viral on social media.

But Tapase said: "The benefit of farmers as per the model APMC act was explained to various state governments and many (state governments) came forward to implement it. Till date the farmers across the country are benefitting from the implementation of the said act which was fine-tuned by Pawar to protect the interest of the farmers of the country."

Fadnavis said that Pawar has not opposed the farm bills but merely wanted deliberations on its, pointing out that laws like land-leasing and the model APMC Act are being implemented in Maharashtra.

Malik, however, said that when Pawar was the Union Agriculture Minister, he never pushed through decisions independently but gave the states the right to modify the laws as per their requirements, unlike the BJP-NDA.

The 3 new farm bills of the BJP government have raised many doubts and insecurity in the minds of the peasantry regarding Minimum Support Price and other issues which the NDA has failed to address, resulting in the huge protests, Malik and Tapase said.

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