Updated: February 5, 2021 7:01:58 pm
As the Opposition continues to attack the government in Parliament over the farmers’ protests against the new farm laws, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar on Friday said the “farmers are being misled” and that “people in a particular state are misinformed”.
“Our efforts are that farmers’ incomes are doubled and contribution of agriculture to GDP increases rapidly. These agriculture laws are also an important step in this direction. I want to tell his House and farmers that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed towards welfare of farmers,” Tomar said, intervening during the discussion on a motion thanking the President for his address to the joint sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha at the start of the Budget Session.
Challenging the Opposition to highlight any mistake in the farm laws, Tomar said, “Farmers are being misled that others would occupy their land if these laws are implemented. Let me know if there is a single provision in Contract Farming law which allows any trader to snatch away the land of any farmer.”
“I made it clear that if government is ready to make amendments, it doesn’t mean there is any problem in farm laws. People in a particular state are misinformed,” the minister said, adding that the farmer unions and the opposition have not been able to point out any shortcomings in the three laws.
The agriculture minister said the government is committed to the welfare of farmers and to the continuation of the mandi system based on MSP. The laws give farmers an alternative to sell their produce outside ‘mandis’, and unlike the state government notified market places, such sale would not attract any tax, he said.
“The agitation should have been against the tax levied (by state government) on sale made in mandis but strangely the protests are against freeing of the system from such taxes,” he said,
Asserting that the government’s aim is to bring “positive change in farmers’ lives”, Tomar said, “Who would have thought that fruits and vegetables will be transported by rail? 100 Kisan Rails, that are in a way mobile cold storage, have been started. They are helping farmers get fair price of their produce.”
Talking about the higher MSP provided by the NDA government on farm produce, Tomar said, “We have started to provide MSP, 50% more than the production cost. Also, Rs 1 lakh crore agriculture infrastructure fund has been given under Atmanirbhar package. We have tried to ensure the requisite investment reaches the agriculture sector.”
Opposition mounts attack on govt
Shiromani Akali Dal MP Sardar Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa highlighted the continuous efforts of lakhs of farmers on the Delhi borders to repeal the farm laws. “Unlike any other protests, farmers agitation has got support on the national and international levels, over lakhs are sitting and they deserve justice,” he said.
Dhindsa also said the country’s tricolour was insulted on January 26, and an inquiry to punish the perpetrators of the same should be launched. However, the blame of the violence should not be put on farmers, he added.
Congress MP Anand Sharma also called for a detailed investigation into the Red Fort violence on Republic day. Sharma expressed his sympathies for the Delhi Police personnel who had to face the violence and lost their lives as a consequence.
Sharma also criticised President Ram Nath Kovind for praising the farm laws in his presidential address at a time when lakhs of farmers were on the street demanding their repeal.
Expressing concern over the situation at Delhi borders, Bahujan Samaj Party MP Satish Mishra said the cutting of water and electricity supply at protest sites is a human rights violation. “You snapped their water and electricity supplies and even removed toilets, without thinking that women are also there. This is a human rights violation, ” he said, urging the Centre to shun their ego and repeal the farm laws.
Speaking about the Republic day violence at Red Fort, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut asked why has the Centre not actually found the real culprit behind the violence. “There has been no discussion from the Centre’s side on who was actually behind the violence, but over 200 farmers have been put behind the bar for the same,” Raut said. He also highlighted that several young protestors are still missing.
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at several of Delhi’s border points since November last year, demanding that the government repeal the three farm laws and provide legal guarantee of MSP for their crops.
Sites of the farmers’ protest on Delhi’s borders have turned into fortresses with the police beefing up security and putting up multi-layered barricades.
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