Accusing the CPI(M) of spearheading a "politially motivated" campaign over the ASEAN free trade agreement, Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said there was no truth in the charge that the pact would ''grievously harm'' Kerala's farm sector.
"CPI-M in Kerala has seized this as an issue to run an ill-motivated campaign against the Centre. The leaders of that party are either ignorant of the details of the pact or pretending to be ignorant for political purposes", Ravi told reporters here today.
The pact would in no way harm the state as important commodities like rubber, coconut and copra, cashew, arecanut, nutmeg and vanilla and 27 items of fish had been included in the negative list, he said.
Though duty on pepper would come down due to the pact, it would have little impact on the domestic production since Vietnam, India's main rival in pepper export, was not a partner to the agreement.
What was essential was to increase the productivity of pepper cultivation in India, for which the Centre had announced schemes.
Instead of carrying out an ''unfounded'' campaign, CPI-M and the LDF Government should try to come to grip with realities in the globalised context and try to utilise the opportunities thrown up by multilateral agreements, he said.