Mah Governor had time for Kangana, but not for farmers: Pawar

Over 6,000 farmers from 21 districts across Maharashtra had arrived in Mumbai in a convoy of 500 vehicles to begin their three-day-sit-in at Azad Maidan.

Credit : The Quint

Addressing a crowd of farmers who had gathered at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan today, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar lashed out at the Union Government over the ongoing protests by the farmers against the three controversial farm laws. Pawar stated that the Maharashtra Governor had time to meet Kangana Ranaut, but he could not spare enough time to meet the protesting farmers.

Over 6,000 farmers from 21 districts across Maharashtra had arrived in Mumbai in a convoy of 500 vehicles to begin their three-day-sit-in at Azad Maidan, in solidarity with the farmers protesting in and around Delhi. The farmers were resolutely marching towards Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s residence, where they planned to submit a memorandum to him against the three farm laws. However, Koshyari had left for Goa earlier to attend the winter session of the state legislative assembly and for the closing ceremony of the 51st International Film Festival of India.

One of the protesting farmers in Mumbai was quoted saying, “We'll give a memorandum to the Governor today. Our families have also come with us because if we lose farming, the entire family will come on the road”.

The NCP leader said, “You are going to Raj Bhavan to meet the Governor. Maharashtra has never seen such a Governor before. He has the time to meet Kangana (Ranaut) but not the farmers. It was the moral responsibility of the Governor to come here and meet you.” 

The Governor’s move was quite apathetic, as the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) had notified him last week about their plans to come and hand over a memorandum to him to repeal the three laws. Dr Ajit Navale, General Secretary of AIKS said, “This is an insult to the farmers and is regretful. We will tear the memorandum in protest. The Governor has fled from the scene. This is the state of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. They cannot betray the farmers and go away like this.”

Sharad Pawar also condemned the Union Government’s way of handling the protests by saying, “Braving cold weather, farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are agitating for the last 60 days. Has the PM enquired about them? Do these farmers belong to Pakistan?” His statement was referring to the claims made by Delhi Police that over 300 Twitter accounts were generated from Pakistan to disrupt the tractor rally organised by protesting farmers on Republic Day.

After slamming the unparliamentary process of passing the three farm bills, Pawar also accused the union government of disregarding the opposition demands for a debate. “We said 'send it (the laws) to a select committee where people of all parties are there'. But the Central Government said, 'No discussion. We came with this and we will pass it without discussion. You all have come here to support',” The Indian Express reported Pawar saying.

Demanding repeal of the three farm laws, President of AIKS, Dr Ashok Dhawale also said, “Earlier we had the policy of ‘hum do hamaare do’. But now, the first ‘hum do’ are Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, and the latter ‘hum do’ are Ambani and Adani who’s demands the government is busy fulfilling.”

INC’s Balasaheb Thorat too blamed the government for favouring a few industrialists and jeopardising the livelihoods of the farmers. He was quoted saying by Hindustan Times, “The three contentious laws were passed without any debate to facilitate a few industrialists. The laws have been made for businessmen. These laws will not only affect farmers but everyone, as you will have to pay more to buy farm produce.”

As senior leaders of Shiv Sena failed to make any appearance, Dhawale said that Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray and Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde were tied up with the inauguration of the bridge, and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray too had extended support for the programme by sending a spokesperson.

Union minister Ramdas Athawale said, "This march in Mumbai is not at all required because the Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of the Acts. The government has proposed to suspend the laws for two years. Hence, the agitation is only for publicity." 

Though the farmers who entered Mumbai were members of AIKS, several other farmer organisations and political parties, including the Maha Vikas Aghadi, will join these protests too. The protesting members will be present on the single platform of Sanyukta Shetkari Kamgar Morcha. In retaliation, BJP senior leader Devendra Fadnavis has stated, “Some political parties are now purposely doing drama and misleading farmers by spreading wrong information.”

According to The Indian Express, the farmers' march had begun in Nashik on Saturday, post which the farmers converged at Igatpuri by late Saturday. They resumed their journey early on Sunday, making their way through the Kasara Ghat on the Mumbai-Agra highway. The AIKS has stated that more than 50,000 farmers are expected to take part in the protest. The Mumbai police have made arrangements for the farmers’ rally by providing nine platoons of SRPF, 500 constables, 100 officers and drones in addition to the local police department.