Where there is a crisis, there is a political opportunity. The ongoing farmers’ protests at the borders of national capital Delhi has proved the fact. Even after five rounds of talks, the government and the farmers have not reached any consensus, however, politicians have reached to conclusions.
One such politician is National Congress Party (NCP) Chief Sharad Pawar, who himself was in favour of agricultural reforms inviting private investment once. A report published in the news portal DNA has suggested that Pawar at several points in time advised the centre to work on new legislation.
It is evident with his letters written to several political leaders in 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2011, the report said. Not just that, he also advocated huge changes in agricultural laws during his tenure as the Minister of Agriculture, it said further.
Sharad Pawar wrote a letter to Delhi’s former Chief Minister Sheila Dixit on August 11, 2010, advocating several changes in the APMC Act.
He wrote, “As you are aware, the agriculture sector needs well-functioning markets to drive growth, employment and economic prosperity in rural areas of the country. This requires huge investments in marketing infrastructure including cold chain. And for this private sector participation is essential, for which an appropriate regulatory and policy environment needs to be in place.”
In the letter, he reminded the then Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dixit of his earlier letters written on May 25, 2005 and May 12, 2007, the report said.
Again, in November 2011, he wrote a letter to the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan advocating the entry of the private sector in the agricultural industry. He had even advocated a change in the APMC Act in the letter saying that apart from government mandis, India needs private mandis, the report said.
“In this context, there is a need to amend the present APMC Act on the lines of Model APMC Act 2003 in order to encourage private sector investment in marketing infrastructure and providing alternate competing marketing channels in the overall interest of the farmers, consumers and agricultural trade. I am sure that this will mean reduced intermediation costs and post-harvest losses as well as enhanced supply of the produce and greater farmer share in consumers' price,” he wrote in the letter.
But now, he has taken a U-turn on his own opinions as the former agriculture minister, the report said.
“I hope that the government will be wise and take cognizance of the issue to be resolved. If this impasse continues, the protest will not be limited to Delhi, but people from all over the country will stand with the protesting farmers,” he has said.
Now, he has even said that if the deadlock continues, the movement will not be restricted only to Delhi and will translate into a pan-India protest as people from across the country will stand with the farmers.