A day after the premier investigation agency Enforcement Directorate attached assets worth 65 crore rupees of a sugar mill whose holding company is linked Ajit Pawar and his wife, the senior Pawar has extended support for the three farms laws passed by the Union government last year.
“As the Centre has cleared the law, now the state, before passing these laws, should discuss the contentious points and take a decision. I don’t think it will come up in a two-day session of the Assembly. If it does, then it should be discussed. There is a group of ministers that is working on this. If they come up with relevant changes in this law, then there is no need to bring a resolution against the farm laws,” said Sharad Pawar, who was agriculture minister from 2004 to 2014.
It must be noted that Pawar was one of the early advocates of the reforms in the agriculture sector, and as Agriculture Minister, he tried to bring consensus in these many times, but the parties in the coalition were not ready to risk the political capital and irk the farmers who will be at the loss of these reforms. So, as Agriculture minister, Pawar wrote a letter to Chief Ministers and urged them to reform the Agriculture market on their level.
When the Modi government passed these laws, initially Pawar supported them when he saw that political momentum is building against these, he backed off and started criticizing the lack of consultation and methods used to pass these laws.
However, now with Ajit Pawar’s neck in ED’s hand in the cooperative bank scam case, Sharad Pawar has once again extended support for the reforms. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar appreciated Pawar’s support and said, “One of the country’s top leaders Mr Sharad Pawar has said in a statement that all laws need not be changed. The clauses that seem problematic must be considered and changed. I welcome this statement of the former agriculture minister.”
“I’d like to tell him that the Central government agrees with him. We have discussed this with the farmer union eleven times…The government of India is willing to reconsider with an open mind the issues that seem problematic,” said Tomar to ANI.
Last year, the Modi government passed three farm bills – the 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 – in the parliament in order to bring the reforms in the agriculture sector that were pending for more than two decades because no party in power was willing to risk the political capital and irk the rich farmers who were benefitting from the previous regime.
The three bills would free up the farmers to sell the products directly in the market, minimize the government power to regulate the stocks of essential commodities which includes various agricultural products and formalize contract farming. These bills would cut the ‘middlemen’ and improve farmer’s income, but, the opposition including Congress which promised to introduce the same reforms, are now opposing these bills and misinforming them for their petty politics. Pawar initially supported them and then took a U-turn and now once again has changed the stance as Ajit Pawar faces the prospects of being thrown behind the bars.