Speaking in Rajya Sabha on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi slammed the mushrooming of a new breed of 'professional protestors'. PM Modi used the Hindi word 'andolan-jivi' to describe a group of people who tend to hijack every protest or movement that has taken place in the country in the recent past.
"We are well aware of some terms like 'shram-jivi' and 'buddhi-jivi'. But, I am seeing that from some time a new entity has come up in this country- 'andolan-jivi'. This community can be spotted wherever there is a protest, be it agitation by lawyers, students, or labourers, sometimes at the forefront and sometimes from behind. These parasites feast on every agitation," he said.
Reacting to PM Modi's remark, Supreme Court lawyer and activist, Prashant Bhushan said the comments were humiliating to the protesting farmers.
"Those to earlier claimed that they have made their political career through protests, are now calling farmers 'andolan-jivi' to humiliate them," Bhushan said in his tweet in Hindi.
Senior Congress leader and Maharashtra minister Ashok Chavan termed PM Modi's choice of words as an 'insult' to farmers.
"The farmer is one the key elements which is keeping the humanity alive. Using the word 'andolan-jivi' sarcastically for farmers' agitation is an insult to farmers. It is disrespectful to them. Such usage is unacceptable," Chavan, who holds PWD portfolio in the Uddhav Thackeray government, tweeted.
Thousands of farmers have been camping at Delhi's borders since November demanding the repeal of three new agriculture laws that they say will end the minimum support price (MSP) based procurement of crops like wheat and paddy by the government and usher in big corporates into the farm sector.
They have rejected the government's offer to suspend the reforms for 18 months and have not joined talks after 11 rounds of talks ended last month.
(With PTI inputs)