The Centre today welcomed NCP chief Sharad Pawar's reported views on making amendments to farm laws, with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar placing on record his agreement with the veteran leader. However, the former minister's party stressed that he was referring to the Maharashtra government's proposed changes to state laws and not the three controversial central laws at the core of farmers protests for over six months.
"One of the country's top leaders Mr Sharad Pawar has said in a statement that all laws need not be changed. The clauses that seem problematic must be considered and changed. I welcome this statement of the former agriculture minister," Mr Tomar told ANI today.
"I'd like to tell him that the Central government agrees with him. We have discussed this with the farmer union eleven times...The government of India is willing to reconsider with an open mind the issues that seem problematic."
Mr Pawar, a former Union Agriculture Minister himself, had yesterday said that he had held discussions with Balasaheb Thorat, the Maharashtra Revenue Minister, over matters related to the state's farm laws.
"As the Centre has cleared the law, now the state, before passing these laws, should discuss the contentious points and take a decision. I don't think it will come up in a two-day session of the Assembly. If it does, then it should be discussed. There is a group of ministers that is working on this. If they come up with relevant changes in this law, then there is no need to bring a resolution against the farm laws," Mr Pawar reportedly said.
Earlier this week, Mr Thorat had said that the Maharashtra government will amend its agriculture law to protect farmers and Agricultural Produce Market Committees as the three Central farm laws were not in farmers' interest.
Thousands of farmers have, since November 2020, been protesting against the Central government's three agricultural laws passed last year: the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
In February this year, Mr Pawar's party had demanded a repeal of the three contentious agri-marketing laws. Earlier, in January, the 80-year-old had himself critiqued the laws in a series of tweets, saying that they will adversely affect the minimum support price (MSP) and weaken the country's mandi system.