A day after Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said the farmers' agitation has been "infiltrated by Leftist and Maoist elements", Union minister Ramdas Athawale said it is important to inquire if such people have entered who have no relation with the farmers' protest. Addressing a press conference in Maharashtra's Nagpur city on Sunday, Athawale, head of the Republican Party of India (A) which is an ally of the BJP, also said Union minister Raosaheb Danve's claim of China and Pakistan being behind the farmers' protest is "not the government's stand".
"Besides, Pakistan and China's hands cannot reach till here," he said when asked about Danve's claim. To a query on Goyal's remark, Athawale said, "It is important to initiate an inquiry into the remarks made by Piyush Goyal, if such people have entered who have no relation with the farmers' protest." Since November 26, thousands of farmers have been protesting at various Delhi borders against the Centre's three new farm laws.
Athawale said social distancing is not seen at the farmers' protest and spread of the coronavirus cannot ruled out in such crowded places. "I can understand the feelings of farmers, but the three farm laws are in the interest of farmers. We do not support their demand for a repeal of the laws," he said.
The government is ready to make amendments. The farmers should not be adamant on repeal of the laws, but should pursue a dialogue on this issue, he said. "Both (farmers and government) should take two steps back and (then) try to move ahead on the issue," he said.
Athawale also alleged that the Congress meted out injustice to NCP chief Sharad Pawar by not making him the prime minister (in 1990s). "I had said it earlier also that an able leader like Sharad Pawar should join the (BJP-led) National Democratic Alliance and work shoulder-to-shoulder with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and make the NDA stronger," Athawale added.
He also expressed confidence that the BJP-RPI(A) will win the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections due in 2022 and unseat the Shiv Sena from power in the Mumbai civic body. "This time, BJP-RPI(A) for sure will come to power in the BMC. The BJP will have its mayor and RPI-A will have the deputy mayor," he said.
The Shiv Sena-ruled BMC is the country's richest civic body with an annual budget of over Rs 33,400 crore.