Union minister Ramdas Athawale on Monday said there was no need of a farmers' march in Mumbai in support of peasants protesting near Delhi against the Centre's three new farm laws, and claimed it is being done only for "publicity".
The central government is on the farmers' side and ready to give justice to the peasants, he asserted.
However, the NCP, an ally of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government, accused Mr Athawale of insulting farmers by calling the protest in Mumbai as a "publicity stunt", and asked him to apologise to all the peasants.
Thousands of farmers from across Maharashtra have reached Mumbai to participate in a rally in the state capital on Monday against the Centre's three new farm laws and to support farmers bodies agitating near Delhi over the issue.
Mr Athawale noted that the Supreme Court recently stayed the implementation of the three new farm laws, and the Centre has also proposed to suspend the legislations for two years.
"This march (in Mumbai) is not at all required because the Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of the Acts.
"The government has proposed to suspend the laws for two years. Hence, the agitation is only for publicity," he told Marathi news channel ''ABP Majha''.
Mr Athawale said there was a need to stop the agitation after the government took a "positive" view of the issues flagged by farmers.
But agitations are being staged again and again, said the minister of state for social justice and empowerment.
The central government is on the farmers side and ready to give justice to the peasants, he asserted.
"The farmers should listen...they should stop the agitation," he urged.
Meanwhile, NCP Maharashtra unit's chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said Mr Athawale has insulted farmers across the country by calling the protest at the Azad Maidan as "publicity stunt".
"Athawale is a minister. He has hurt the sentiments of farmers. He should apologise immediately to all the farmers of the country and particularly those from Maharashtra," Mr Tapase said in a video message.