As the farmers' protest continue to intensify in and around the national capital, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said that images of "a person who supports the Naxalite movement" was seen during the farmers' protests.
"I'm not speaking of all farmers and farmer organisations, but I want to ask you something. In our Gadchiroli district, near Nagpur, in Vidarbha, a person who supports the Naxalite movement was investigated. The court also did not grant him bail. How did his photo appear in this movement? What is his link to farming and farmers?" Mr Gadkari said in an interview with NDTV.
The minister said that "some elements that are using this farmers' movement to defame them and take the agenda to another angle".
"Someone who gave anti-national speeches, someone who has no direct or indirect links with farmers, how did his photo appear? So I said there are some elements that are using this farmers' movement to defame them and take the agenda to another angle. This is not the agenda of farmers and farmer organisations. Farmers should stay away from that. That's all," he said.
The minister made the comments when asked if the centre could have held talks with farmers before the farms bills were passed, rather than trying to negotiate after the bills were passed.
On December 11, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that there is "evidence" that the ongoing farmers' protest has been "overtaken" by the "tukde-tukde gang".
Talking about the presence of posters in support of Sharjeel Imam, Umar Khalid, Gautam Navlakha and others at the farmers' protest, the minister said that the negotiations between the government and farmers' unions failed because of a "sinister design".
Thousands of farmers have been protesting, camping on the outskirts of Delhi since late November demanding the withdrawal of the three contentious farm laws that they say will leave them at the mercy of private buyers and slash their income.
The agitated farmers have repeatedly rejected the centre's proposals offering amendments in the agricultural laws.
Several organisations and those from the government have drawn links between the protests to the separatist movement for a Sikh state of Khalistan and the anti-citizenship law sit-in at Delhi's Shaheen Bagh earlier this year.