As the farmers’ protest against new farm laws entered its 17th day, Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday said the agitation no longer remains a farmers’ movement as it has been “infiltrated by Leftist and Maoist elements” demanding the release of those put behind bars for “anti-national activities”.
This, he said, was clearly to derail agriculture reforms brought by the government.
Mr Goyal, however, did not say if the government had or is planning to take any action against any person belonging to banned outfits seen at the protests.
“We now realise that the so-called farmer agitation hardly remains a farmers’ agitation. It has almost got infiltrated by Leftist and Maoist elements, a flavour of which we saw over the last two days when there were extraneous demands to release people who have been put behind bars for illegal activities,” Mr Goyal, the Minister for Railways, Commerce and Industry and Food and Consumers Affairs, said at FICCI’s annual meeting.
The demands being raised on a farmers’ platform to release “so-called intellectuals and poets” clearly demonstrate that the effort to derail farm law improvements is probably in the hands of certain elements who are not good for India, he said.
“I would urge all well-meaning business leaders and all well-meaning intellectuals who are involved with Ficci, who are on this webcast, to talk about the benefits of these farm laws, to understand the law. Should you have any apprehension, please talk to us,” Mr Goyal said.
The minister assured that these laws are for the benefit of nearly 100 million farmers across the country.
He said this is a government that has been committed to farmer welfare, which has almost doubled procurement under minimum support price or MSP, which is “wrongly sought to be portrayed as being under danger”.
“This is a government that has ensured that farmers get 50 per cent over their cost of production.
“This is a government that has increased the agricultural budget nearly six times, never before increased to today nearly USD 20 billion, Rs 1.34 lakh crore invested in the agricultural sector,” said the minister.