In an interaction with farmers of six states on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi targeted the Opposition for “pushing a political agenda” by “spreading myths and lies” over the new farm laws. “Some parties are pushing a political agenda by opposing the new farm laws. Some people are spreading myths and lies that land will be taken away if farmers enter into contract farming,” he said.
The interaction was part of a massive outreach programme planned by the government at a time when the talks between farmer unions and the Centre have hit a road block impasse over the farm legislations, which has drawn lakhs of farmers from neighbouring states to protest at Delhi’s borders for close to a month now.
“You would have seen that when the agitation started their demand was about MSP guarantee. They had genuine issues because they were farmers. But then those with political ideology took over,” Modi said. “MSP, etcetera were pushed aside and now what is happening. They are demanding release from jail of those accused of violence… They want highways toll-free. Why have they shifted from farmer’s issues to new demands,” he said. He alleged that those with political agenda are not letting farmers go into any dialogue with govt to address their concerns.
He also said that some people, whose names came up in the media for land grabbing, are now feigning concerns about farmers’ land.
Modi asserted that an overwhelming number of farmers across India have welcomed the new laws and are already reaping the benefits, and listed out the BJP’s victory in panchayat elections across states, in which farmers were the key voters and including in areas surrounding protest sites.
“Despite that, farmers across the country have wholehearted welcome agriculture reforms, I assure you that I will not let you down,” Modi said, adding that the government has connected over 1,000 mandis online, where more than Rs 1 lakh crore of trade has already taken place.
At the virtual event, which marks the birth anniversary of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, PM Modi transferred over Rs 18,000 crore to more than nine crore farmers, the latest tranche of funds under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme.
Other senior leaders, including Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, also took part in the BJP’s event.
Addressing farmers in Kishangarh village in Delhi, Shah said the Minimum Support Price for farmers would continue, mandis would not be closed and corporated would not snatch farmers’ land. Shah too accused the Opposition of “spreading brazen lies”.
Singh said the government had a lot of respect for the farmers protesting, and would not do anything which wasn’t in their interest. “Let the farm laws be implemented for year or so. If they are not beneficial for farmers, we will make necessary amendments,” he said.
Both Shah and Singh called for farmers to reopen the dialogue with the government.