With farmer unions rejecting the concessions he proposed to end their opposition to the new farm laws, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar Thursday slammed the Opposition parties and others for backing the protests to make “innocent farmers… puppets of their politics”.
In an open letter to farmers protesting at the gates of Delhi, Tomar said those stopping trains carrying supplies to soldiers at the borders, especially at a time when the situation in Ladakh is “challenging”, cannot be farmers.
The minister, who has been leading the government’s talks with the farmer unions, also referred to the call for boycott of “Indian products” – some unions had called for the boycott of products of the Ambani and Adani groups.
“At a time when the country is moving forward with its resolve of Atmanirbhar Bharat and vocal is going local, the intention of these people who have called for the boycott of India’s products must be identified,” he said.
Tomar’s letter was retweeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who said the minister had expressed his feelings and tried to have a humble conversation (vinamra samvad) with the farmers. He requested all “annadatta” to read the letter, and urged countrymen to make it reach as many people as possible.
In his 8-page letter in Hindi, Tomar said: “When the security situation at the borders of Leh-Ladakh is challenging, and the snowfall is many feet high, then those stopping trains carrying supplies to soldiers on the borders cannot be farmers.”
“Because of these people, we have to transport supplies and other essential goods to our troops by air and other means,” he said.
Without naming any organisation or political party, he recalled the situation during the Sino-Indian war of 1962. “The ideology of these people, who are misleading the farmers by hiding behind curtains, was not with the country even during the war of 62. Today, these people are again speaking the language of 62,” he said.
He said farmers should think what their goal was when they started their movement and what was happening today.
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He urged them not to be misled and think on the basis of facts. “It is the duty of our government to remove all your doubts and answer all your queries,” he said.
Tomar said political parties, which have lost ground, have been misleading farmers that their lands will be taken away under the new laws.
“The Congress did not implement the Swaminathan Committee report for 8 years, how can the Congress be a well-wisher of farmers… Why have UPA government ministers, who used to write letters in favour of these reforms, done a U-turn now,” he said.
“The Aam Aadmi Party wrote in its Punjab election manifesto that it will give farmers the facility to sell their produce outside the mandi, why is it now speaking against it,” he said.
He said SAD leaders were part of the Hooda committee that recommended agriculture reforms but are now opposing these laws.
He also questioned why farm unions, which were supportive of these reforms until two-three months ago, were suddenly opposed to them.
Tomar’ letter comes at a time when senior ministers and BJP leaders are mobilising support for the new farm laws, and attacking the Opposition for “misleading” farmers.
Sources said Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Tomar along with BJP general secretaries Arun Singh, C T Ravi and Dushyant Gautam held a meeting Thursday in which they reviewed the party’s moves so far on the issue.