Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar (Image: Twitter)
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Monday said former prime minister Manmohan Singh and the then agriculture minister Sharad Pawar wanted to bring farm reforms during the UPA regime, but could not implement them due to "political pressure".
Tomar also asserted the Modi government will not take any decisions detrimental to the poor and farmers.
The minister was addressing representatives of 11 farmer organisations from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Haryana, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir who had come to extend support for the three farm laws.
"Under the leadership of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi, whatever positive steps are taken for bringing reforms, some section have opposed them. However, these reforms have been instrumental in changing the picture of the country," an official statement quoted Tomar having said in the meeting with the farm groups.
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The government is in talks with protesting farmer unions as well and is trying to end the logjam through dialogue, he added.
Asserting that the Modi government would never take any decision which will have a negative impact on the poor and farmers in villages, Tomar said, "Some forces are making futile efforts to fulfill their plans/designs using the shoulder of farmers."
"In the UPA regime, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the then Agriculture Miniter Sharad Pawar wanted to bring reforms in the farm sector. But it is unfortunate that their government could not take the decision due to political pressure," he observed.
Separately, Pawar told reporters here that the government should take farmers' agitation seriously.
Tomar also said that the previous governments, farm scientists, farm bodies and chief ministers had recommended and supported the farm reforms.
About 11 farmer groups, which included Kisan Indian Union (Delhi) Rashtriya Annadata Union (Uttar Pradesh), Krishi Jagran Manch (West Bengal) and Maharasthra Krishak Samaj, met Tomar at NASC complex in Pusa area here.
With this, the number of farmer groups extending support for the laws has touched at least two dozen.
For over a month now, 40 farmer unions, especially from Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various borders of Delhi seeking repeal of the three farm laws.
The government has invited them to resume talks on December 30, which is scheduled to be held after 25 days since the last round on December 5.