A day ahead of the Bharat bandh called by farmers' groups in opposition to three farm laws, the Narendra Modi government went on the offensive against opposition parties. Most major opposition groups have voiced support for the Bharat bandh.
At a press conference on Monday, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad accused the Congress of double-speak on the farmers' protests.
Prasad declared that the Modi government was holding discussions with farmers groups to alleviate concerns expressed about the farm laws. "However, suddenly all opposition and anti-BJP parties have jumped in."
Prasad alleged the Congress was participating in any movement against the government just to stay relevant.
Prasad noted, "Today, the political existence of the Congress is ending; again and again, it has lost elections, be it Lok Sabha, Assembly or municipal polls." Prasad said the Congress, in its manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, had clearly said it would abolish the Agriculture Produce Market Act and free farmers from restrictions on engaging in business.
Prasad then targeted NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. "When Sharad Pawar was Union agriculture minister, he wrote letters to chief ministers. He wrote that it was necessary to reform the mandi act and for the private sector to enter agriculture and farmers should have chance to sell their produce anywhere."
Prasad said, "The work we have done today, eight-nine years ago, the Manmohan Singh government had done..." He added that parties such as the RJD and CPI, which are currently supporting the farmers' protests, were backing the Manmohan Singh government at the time.
Prasad said, "The leaders of the farmers' movement have said clearly political people will not come to our platform". Despite this, Prasad said, opposition parties were ganging up as the farmers' protests gave them an opportunity to oppose Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP.