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Sharad Pawar clarifies on his old letter in row over farm laws

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New Delhi, Dec 08: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Tuesday admitted that he had called for reforms in the APMC Act but denied he ever favoured scrapping of the law.

Sharad Pawar

The letters by Pawar, who handled the key portfolio of agriculture during the Congress-led UPA government, have become a source of controversy with the BJP using them to attack the NCP president whose party has opposed the new farm laws and backed the ongoing agitation by farmers.

"I had said that APMC needs some reforms. The APMC Act should continue but with reforms. There is no doubt that I had written the letter. But their three Acts does not even mention APMC. They are just trying to divert the attention. There is no need to give importance," Sharad Pawar said.

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Amid the controversy, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Chouhan accused Pawar of adopting double standards over the new farm laws. Chouhan confirmed that Pawar had written to him in 2011 seeking changes in the Act.

"There is a need to amend APMC Act on lines of model APMC Act to encourage private sector investment in marketing, infrastructure and providing alternate competitive marketing channels in the overall interest of farmers, consumers and agriculture trade," Chouhan said.

Pawar has now said that the Centre has got the agricultural laws cleared in Parliament in a haste and warned that if efforts are not made to resolve the deadlock soon, more farmers from across the country will join the protests.

The NCP has, meanwhile, alleged that the ruling BJP has been circulating Pawar's letters randomly to "confuse" people.

Central government sources on Sunday pointed out that as the Union agriculture minister Pawar had asked chief ministers to amend the APMC Act in their states to allow the private sector to play an important role in the field.

Sharing the content of some letters Pawar had written to various chief ministers, a government official had claimed that the BJP-led NDA government has made the same set of changes in the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act as pushed by him when he was the Union minister.

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