Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Home Politics Union Minister Piyush Goyal 'threatened' farmer leader during the meeting? Here's the truth

Union Minister Piyush Goyal ‘threatened’ farmer leader during the meeting? Here’s the truth

A video has gone viral where Piyush Goyal and Union Minister for Agriculture NS Tomar can be seen having a colloquial discussion with Rakesh Tikait of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) and other members of the farmer delegation involved in discussions with the Government.

The ‘farmer protests’ have given an opportunity to all far-left propagandists to come out of their caves in their attempt to undermine the NDA Government at the centre. A lot of fake news has been peddled by propagandists to fearmonger about the recently passed farm laws. Consistent with their approach, they are now accusing Union Minister Piyush Goyal of ‘threatening’ the farmers.

A video has gone viral where Piyush Goyal and Union Minister for Agriculture NS Tomar can be seen having a colloquial discussion with Rakesh Tikait of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) and other members of the farmer delegation involved in discussions with the Government. In the video, while the context is not clear due to the poor audio, Goyal is heard saying, “We have a list of 40 of your organisations. Do not make me open my mouth.”

This is being used by propagandist to claim that Goyal was threatening the farmers. The claim appears bizarre as farmers can be seen in the same video with a smile on their faces and pretty relaxed in the presence of the Union Ministers.

And even after the Union Minister made the remark, the expressions on the faces of those present don’t suggest that any of them interpreted his words as a threat. There was no discernible change from their previously relaxed expressions. Even more tellingly, Goyal himself appeared to be smiling when he made that comment.

It is pertinent to note that earlier, farmers from across the country have come forward to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi and requested the Centre to not bow down to the demands of the protestors. These farmers from various states, including Punjab, have said that the new farm laws have been beneficial to them, and said that these should not be repealed as demanded by the farmers mostly from Punjab.

In fact, we had reported earlier that the protesting farmers from Punjab were upset that the central government was holding talks with farmer bodies of other states. Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body representing as many as 40 farmers bodies, mostly from Punjab, had written to the union government asking it to stop holding talks with farmer bodies of other states. The letter is written by Darshan Pal, who was a founding member of Maoist organisation PDFI. 

This letter came after other farmer bodies in other states extended their support to the new farm laws passed by the Centre. The Sanyukt Kisan Morcha accused the government of trying to ‘defame’ the ongoing protests by Punjab farmers who have blocked roads to Delhi, taking the national capital hostage. 

It was in this context that Piyush Goyal had informally made that remark when Tikait was expressing his displeasure at the government engaging with several other farmer organisations who were in favour of the laws.

This meeting was held during the last round of talks between the government and the farmers. While informal sessions are generally the norm, it was not possible earlier because the ‘farmers’ were dining separately, because they used to bring their own food. During this meeting, the ministers joined the farmers during the break and chatted with them informally.

Sources told us that Rakesh Tikait was complaining that the government was holding discussions with farmer groups that were not involved in these protests. In fact, Tikait said that those organisation that were not involved in the meeting (essentially those supporting the farm laws) were ‘not genuine’. At that point, Piyush Goyal responded saying that they have a list of 40 organizations that are part of the protests. And yet, the narrative that is being peddled is that the Union Minister apparently threatened the farmers. It is pretty amazing considering the fact that none of those present interpreted it as such.

‘PIL Activist’ Prashant Bhushan is at the head of the pack. According to him, “we see big mouth Piyush Goel threatening the farmer leaders”.

Another widely followed propagandist on Twitter commented, “Watch him publicly threaten the farmer leaders.”

Disgraced journalist Rohini Singh said that Pyiyush Goyal was being arrogant and such arrogance leads to downfall.

Some are also claiming that the Union Minister abused the farmers.

Newslaundry Columnist Jas Oberoi also claimed that Poyush Goyal had threatened the farmer.

It is important to mention here that the visuals are most likely from Wednesday when the last round of discussions between farmer leaders and the government were held. And today is Friday, and yet, no farmer leader has claimed that he was threatened by the Union Minister. It is only propagandists on social media who are making such claims.

Amusingly enough, the farmer leaders themselves told the press following the meeting was positive. Rakesh Tikait also expressed hope that the matter will be resolved soon after their demands are met. Rakesh Tikait, himself, appeared to be quite in a jolly mood during the interview following the meeting. There was no indication anywhere that he had been threatened. He himself said the meeting was positive.

Misinformation against Laws and Government 

Babbar is not the only one who spreading misinformation or indulging in fear-mongering against the union government or the Agriculture laws. Yesterday, OpIndia reported about Katha Vachak Banta Singh Ji who used Gurudwara Bangla Sahib Ji to spread misinformation about the laws. From opposition leaders to Khalsa Aid’s founder Ravi Singh, and from organizations like PFI and SFJ are trying to take advantage of the situation and spread their anti-India propaganda. In fact, only a few days ago, it was revealed that the ‘farmer’ who was demanding that the laws be repealed was a Congress leader who had assets worth well over Rs 600 crores and also had several serious criminal charges against him.

What are the farm laws? 

One of the biggest factors plaguing the growth of agriculture sector in the country is the inability of the farmer to find a market and to get a fair price to his produce. To address the issue, the erstwhile governments of different states enacted the Agricultural Produce Market Regulation Acts (APMC Acts), which authorised them to set up and regulate marketing practices in wholesale markets. 

The objective of these markets was to ensure that farmers get a fair price for their produce. However, with each passing year, the APMCs turned out to be inefficient with increasing cartelisation of middlemen, ban on private players to enter the trade, increasing corruption etc. 

The Modi government recently introduced three bills to promote much easier trade for the farm produce and to provide a competitive market for the producers outside the existing APMC system. The three laws were

  1. The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020: This law aims at creating additional trading opportunities outside the APMC market yards to help farmers get remunerative prices due to additional competition
  2. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020: This law relates a framework for contract farming through an agreement between a farmer and a buyer prior to the production or rearing of any farm produce. 
  3. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020: This law aims to regulate the supply of certain food items only under extraordinary circumstances.

It is pertinent to mention that the farm laws are set of three laws that allow farmers to sell their products outside APMC act (most states make it compulsory for the farmers to sell at APMC mandis). It also allows farmers to directly have a contract with corporate houses.

That farm laws don’t do away with APMC, and if someone is not willing to trust markets outside the current system, they are free to stick to the ongoing system. It doesn’t do away with MSPs either. However, the prevalent narrative that seems to be motivated by political concerns falsely claims that APMCs and MSP are being done away with. 

They also allege that due to these laws, big corporations would have the upper hand in a deal with farmers, however, that again is a lie. In fact, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 ensures that a contract is agreed upon and gives the farmer the power to even cancel contracts.

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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