Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday said that the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were entirely responsible for the violence and chaos that erupted during the farmers’ agitation in Delhi on Republic Day.
He further exhorted the Centre to cast off its intransigence over the amended farm laws and immediately repeal the contentious legislations.
“The Modi government did not discuss the new laws with anyone but merely imposed them on the farmers before consulting them. The erstwhile Manmohan Singh-led UPA as well as the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA governments used to take all parties in confidence before formulating any vital legislation and implementing it,” Mr. Chavan, a former Maharashtra Chief Minister, said.
The Congressman said that previously, legislation used to be discussed in a parliamentary committee before it was enacted, so that the laws had a comprehensive vote.
“But Prime Minister Modi has steamrolled the three agriculture laws despite not having a majority in the Rajya Sabha. His attitude of ‘whatever I say is law’ is dangerous for the country,” Mr. Chavan said, adding that the laws had been passed in the Upper House by suspending the opposition members.
The fact that the agitation had been dragging on for more than two months now with farmers holding their ground in the bitter cold only proved that a major trust deficit prevailed between the the Prime Minister and farmer outfits, he said.
“After much negotiation, the farmers were allowed to hold a tractor rally in Delhi. It is unfortunate that the situation got out of hand and that the police resorted to using tear gas during the rally while carrying out baton charges. While any violence cannot be condoned, it is the Centre that was fully responsible for the law and order situation that arose in Delhi,” Mr. Chavan, an MLA from Karad South in Satara district, said.
Meanwhile, farmer leader Ajit Nawale, who is the State general secretary of the Left-affiliated All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), said that a number of farmer leaders had hinted at the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) being responsible for triggering the chaos and violence in the capital.
“Several farmer leaders have mentioned the name of Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu, who has connections with the BJP and whose role has come under scrutiny in the clashes during the tractor rally. The perception is that the Central government is using people like him [Mr. Sidhu] to taint the farmers’ legitimate protest,” Mr. Nawale said.
He further said that it was curious that the BJP’s IT cell did not circulate any videos of the one lakh-odd tractors that protested peacefully but only made viral one tractor that had crashed into the barricades.
“Why is it that only this one video is being widely circulated by the BJP’s IT cell? Does the BJP intend to discredit the farmers’ agitation by accusing the protesters of lawless behaviour? However, farmer organisations are well aware of the Centre’s tricks. The AIKS demands a thorough probe into the matter,” Mr. Nawale said.