Hailing the passage of two farm Bills in Lok Sabha Thursday as a “historic day for the country in the field of agricultural reforms,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tore into the Opposition Friday for “spreading lies” and “misleading” farmers on the legislation.
Speaking via video link at a ceremony to inaugurate new rail lines and electrification projects in Bihar and dedicate the Kosi Rail Mahasetu to the nation, Modi said: “Some people who ruled this country for decades are attempting to mislead farmers on this issue.”
His remarks came a day after Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal of the SAD – her party is one of the oldest allies of the BJP – resigned from the government in protest against The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill 2020, and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 – the proposed laws have had farmers taking to the streets in Punjab and Haryana. In Lok Sabha, the Congress led the Opposition attack on the Bills, calling these “draconian”.
Modi said the passage of the Bills has liberated “our annadatta” farmers from the restrictions that tied them down. “These reforms will ensure they get better alternatives, more opportunities to sell their produce… the middleman between the farmer and the consumer would always pocket a large share of the farmer’s income. To save the farmer from the middleman, it was necessary to bring these laws. These will now be a shield (raksha kavach) for the farmer.”
He said changes to provisions of the agricultural market in the APMC Act were also promised in the election manifestoes of Opposition parties who are now opposing the reforms. He said “lies” are being spread that the benefit of MSP will not be given to farmers by the government.
The government, Modi said, is committed to provide a fair price to farmers through MSP and government procurement will continue as before. With the new provisions coming into force, he said, farmers can harvest their crop and sell at a desired price in any market of the country.
Referring to Nitish Kumar, the Prime Minister said the Bihar Chief Minister, realising the harm done by the APMC Act, removed this law in the state.
He listed initiatives of the government to improve lives of farmers — Pradhan Mantri Kisan Kalyan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, neem-coated urea, the building of a network of cold storage, investment in food processing industries and the creation of the agricultural infrastructure fund.
The Prime Minister said the government is constantly working to increase the income of farmers. A nationwide campaign is also being carried out to protect livestock from diseases. He urged farmers to be vigilant of those “misleading” them.
“Those who talk of protecting farmers actually want to keep farmers under bondage. They are supporting the middlemen and supporting the looters of the farmer’s income,” he said.
The Prime Minister dedicated the Kosi Rail Mahasetu to the nation and inaugurated new rail lines and electrification projects in Bihar – the state will be going to polls soon.
“Projects worth about Rs 3,000 crore such as Kosi Mahasetu and Kiul Bridge, electrification projects, promotion of Make-in-India in Railways and a dozen job-creating projects are being launched today. These projects will not only strengthen Bihar’s rail network but also strengthen rail connectivity to West Bengal and eastern India,” he said.
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