Stepping up his attack on the Opposition by accusing them of “repeatedly lying” to farmers about the new farm laws and “using them for their politics”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday said the MSP system would continue, and his government was ready to discuss any concern that farmers may have.
His remarks, at a Kisan Sammelan in Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh which he addressed via virtual mode, came a day after he endorsed Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s open letter to farmers which targeted the Opposition parties with similar allegations.
This has been the official refrain ever since farmers rejected government concessions on the farm laws as Ministers and BJP leaders have been mobilising support. The Opposition has hit back, saying the Government is trying to steamroll the laws and is using the “anti-national” tag to tarnish criticism.
In his address, the Prime Minister listed what he called were the three “big lies” being spread about the farm laws — that MSP would be stopped, mandis would be shut down, and the new reforms would only safeguard contract farming.
“There is no reason for mistrust in the recent agricultural reforms done by the government, and there is no place for lies,” he said.
Referring to the Opposition, he said the biggest proof of their hypocrisy was the Swaminathan committee report which had been brushed aside for eight years, before its implementation by his government.
“Why would we implement the Swaminathan committee report if we did not have to implement Minimum Support Price,” he said.
He said MSP is announced before sowing to put the farmer at ease. He highlighted that even during the fight against the Corona pandemic, the procurement on MSP was done as usual. He assured farmers that MSP would continue like before.
Stating that the government has not only increased the MSP, but has also procured a lot more, he provided MSP figures for wheat, paddy, jowar, lentil, gram, toor and moong to make the point that the current MSP is much higher than those under previous governments.
No mandi in the country, he said, has been shut down even after six months of the enactment of the new laws. APMCs are being made stronger and more robust with an investment of Rs 5000 crore, and the new laws on contract farming have ensured that the one who enters into an agreement with farmers cannot escape his responsibility, he said, adding that contract farming has been operational in the country for several decades and is not something new.
“Jinki khud ki rajnitik zameen khis gayi hai, woh kisano ki zameen chali jayegi, kisano ki zameen chali jayegi ka dar dikha kar, apni rajnitik zameen khoj rahe hain (Those who have lost political ground are trying to scare everyone by saying farmers will lose their land, and they are doing this to regain ground),” Modi said, referring to the Opposition.
“I want to expose these people before the farmers of the country.” He said the new farm laws have not come overnight. These were under consideration for 20-25 years by all governments at the Centre, states and had been demanded by farmers organisations, agriculture economists, scientists and progressive farmers, he said.
He urged farmers to seek a response from political parties which promised these reforms in manifestoes, but played vote-bank politics and did not keep their word. “The things that were promised by them are being reinforced through these laws. They do not have a problem with the agricultural reforms, but they have a problem with Modi. How did he do it and how can Modi be given credit for it,” he said.
At the event, in the presence of an estimated 20,000 farmers, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his Cabinet colleagues transferred Rs 1,600 crore into the accounts of 35.50 lakh farmers for damages during the kharif season.
Agriculture infrastructure works worth Rs 70 crore were inaugurated and 2,000 fishermen and cattle farmers were provided Kisan Credit Cards.
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