NCP president Sharad Pawar at a rally in Mumbai, in solidarity with farmers protesting near Delhi, took a dig at Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Monday for taking time to meet Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut but having no time to meet farmers.
Pawar hit out at Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari for heading to Goa at a time when peasants from the state were to submit a memorandum to the latter against the farm laws. Pawar said Koshyari, who holds the additional charge of Goa, had time to meet Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut after the BMC last year demolished parts of her office here, but has no time for farmers.
"You may pass any law undermining the Constitution, not keeping in with the reputation of Parliament and destroying the Parliamentary system on the back of your majority. But remember one thing, once the common man and farmers of the country rise, whether you withdraw the laws or not, they will not keep quiet until they destroy you and the laws," Pawar said during the rally.
The former Union agriculture minister also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of not enquiring about the condition of farmers agitating near Delhi borders against the Centre's farm laws for two months now in cold weather.
"It has been 60 days since the farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan are protesting near Delhi. Did the countrys PM enquire about (the farmers)? "It was mentioned that the farmers are from Punjab. Does Punjab mean Pakistan?" Pawar asked.
Pawar said the leaders of farmers who attended the rally in Mumbai were to submit a memorandum to Koshyari. "We have not seen such a Governor in the history of Maharashtra. Lakhs of people have come here. They were to submit a memorandum to the Governor. But the Governor has gone to Goa. He has time to meet Kangana, but not my farmers," Pawar alleged.
Maharashtra Revenue Minister and state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat, All India Kisan Sabha general secretary Hannan Mollah and others also addressed the rally held at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai. The NCP patriarch alleged that the farm laws were passed without detailed discussion in Parliament despite opposition parties demanding deliberations on the bills concerned.
"The bills could have been discussed by a select committee, but that did not happen," he said. "...people (from opposition) opposed it. But the laws were declared passed without discussion. This is the insult of the Constitution," the Rajya Sabha MP said, hitting out at the BJP-led government at the Centre.
The NCP leader said it was the governor's moral responsibility to meet farmers, but the latter did not discharge that duty. The new agri laws, enacted in September last year, seek to encourage private trade, contract farming and remove stock limit on foodgrains.
Pawar's comments led a political storm in the state. All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) president Ashok Dhawale accused Koshyari of running away to Goa to have fun and charged the latter with "insulting" the farmers and workers of Maharashtra.
The governor's office issued clarification stating that the farmers were made aware that the Governor was not available in Mumbai on Monday. The Raj Bhavan in its statement said that representatives of the Samyukta Shetkari Morcha were informed in advance that the Governor would not be able to meet the delegation on Monday as he would be in Goa to address its Assembly.
"It was already cleared (to Morcha representatives) that Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has additional charge of Goa Governors post and he would address the session of the Goa Assembly on January 25 and hence, will not be able to meet the farmers delegation, the Raj Bhavan said in a statement.
The Raj Bhavan said the Morcha's representative, Dhananjay Shinde, was on January 22 informed over the phone about Koshyaris unavailability.
Hundreds of farmers have marched from Nasik to Mumbai to show solidarity with the protesting farmers in Delhi. Farmers protest in Mumbai was supported by the Maharashtra government. The protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating Minimum Support Price's safety cushion and do away with the mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.
(With inputs from PTI)