Opposition played with sentiments of farmers: BJP’s Dushyant Gautam on farm laws
The three farm laws that are now being repealed had encapsulated all the demands and proposals made over the past two decades in order to improve the lives of the country’s farmers, Dushyant Gautam, the national general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) insisted on Tuesday.
He blamed the Opposition parties for creating unrest among farmers and politicising the laws, saying they would have ushered in long-pending reforms.
“They played with the sentiments of farmers, they spoilt the amity between communities, and they used this as an opportunity to play politics. Whatever had been said by the Congress in their manifesto and about contract farming was included in these laws. Yet, they indulged in khilwad (messing things up) and rajneeti (politics),” Gautam told HT.
The union government had been under pressure from a section of farmers to withdraw the three contentious laws that were passed in Parliament last year.
Ensuing protests by farmers against the three laws threatened to cast a shadow on the BJP’s electoral fortunes in the forthcoming assembly elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
Gautam, who is also in charge of Punjab, said the government was mindful of not letting a situation emerge that would allow the issue to snowball into a fight between Sikhs and other communities.
“Whenever we went to talk to the people and explain the bills, we were told that the bills are good but they (protesters) should be removed from the border (protest sites). It seems we could not deal with the strictness with which we should have dealt with the protests,” he said.
Gautam said strict action was not taken by the government because it didn’t want to see any untoward incident that the Opposition could then take advantage of. “We did not want to break them. We wanted to keep society together,” he said.
While the Opposition dubbed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to repeal the farm laws as a victory for the protesting farmers, the BJP claims the farmers were instigated to oppose what the party saw were beneficial laws enacted in good faith.
“The Opposition tried to present events in different light… They tried to discredit the government. We thought this decision was the only solution to escape this, especially since those for whom these laws were drafted were not with us. It was important to save the country,” Gautam said.
On the Opposition’s allegations that the union government was reluctant to send the farm bills to select committees for scrutiny, Gautam said, “They only know how to divert from the issues at hand… had they wanted solutions, they wouldn’t have waited so long to punish the accused in the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom, or for the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, or taking the names of the blacklist (comprising names of Sikhs and foreign nationals listed for alleged anti-India activities who were barred from seeking visas).”