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Opposition's Stand Against Farm Reforms Exposes its Shameful Double Standards, Says BJP

Farmers protest against the agriculture laws. (Reuters)

Farmers protest against the agriculture laws. (Reuters)

While appreciating the protesting farmer unions for not associating their stir with political parties, Prasad said the BJP's rivals have jumped into their protest in a bid to save their existence after being repeatedly rejected by people in different elections across the country.

The BJP lashed out at the opposition parties on Monday for coming out against the farm reforms enacted by the Narendra Modi government as it cited their earlier support to many provisions of the new laws to accuse them of "shameful double standards". Senior BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged that a section of farmers has fallen in the grip of a few people with "vested interests" and asserted that the government was working to address their misgivings about the reforms, which have drawn strong protests from a section of cultivators.

While appreciating the protesting farmer unions for not associating their stir with political parties, Prasad said the BJP's rivals have jumped into their protest in a bid to save their existence after being repeatedly rejected by people in different elections across the country. He read out from the Congress' manifesto for the 2019 general election to note that it had promises "repeal" of the APMC Act and also said that Rahul Gandhi had asked Congress-ruled states in 2013 to take measures to allow farmers to sell their produce directly.

NCP leader Sharad Pawar, who was agriculture minister in the UPA government, had asked states to amend the APMC Act and had even warned them that the Centre will not provide financial assistance in absence of three reforms, Prasad said. When the Modi government has enacted these provisions, all these parties are now opposing them. This exposes their "shameful double standards," he said.

Opposition parties, including many regional outfits, on Sunday came out in strong support of the 'Bharat Bandh' on December 8 called by farmer unions which have been protesting on Delhi's borders for 11 days demanding the repeal of the Centre's new agri-marketing laws. Prominent leaders including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, NCP leader Sharad Pawar, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, DMK chief M K Stalin and PAGD chairman Farooq Abdullah also issued a joint statement backing the proposed day-long strike and pressed the Centre to meet the legitimate demands of the protesters.

The three farm laws enacted in September have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country. However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. The Centre has repeatedly asserted that these mechanisms will remain.