February 9, 2021 4:10:58 am
As the farmer protest continues, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday singled out the Congress, Left and Trinamool, accusing them of standing in the way of agricultural reforms. Citing former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Modi said the Congress has taken a U-turn after advocating reforms and argued that the country should be cautious of a new community of people, whom he called “andolanjeevi”, with “FDI (Foreign Destructive Ideology)”.
Replying to the debate on the motion of thanks on the President’s Address in the Rajya Sabha, Modi also reached out to the Sikh community, saying “some people are trying to mislead” them. “This country is proud of every Sikh. What have they not done for the country? Whatever respect we give them will never be enough… I have been fortunate to spend some crucial years of my life in Punjab. The language used by some against them and the attempt to mislead them will never benefit the nation,” he said.
Modi warned the country against “a new class of people that has emerged”. “That is andolanjeevi. This jamaat appears at lawyers’ agitations, can be seen at students’ agitations, at workers’ agitations. Somewhere they are behind the scenes, somewhere in the forefront. They cannot live without agitating… We will have to identify them, (those) who give an ideological slant, mislead.”
He called them a new kind of FDI. “We need FDI — Foreign Direct Investment. This new FDI is Foreign Destructive Ideology,” he said, saying the country should be protected from it.
Pointing to Manmohan Singh, who was present in the House, the Prime Minister said, “I want to read a quote of his… ‘There are other rigidities because of the whole marketing regime set up in the 1930s which prevent our farmers from selling their produce where they get the highest rate of return. It is our intention to remove all those handicaps which come in the way of India realising its vast potential as one large common market’… Manmohan Singh had expressed his desire to give freedom to farmers to sell their produce and give India one common market…..We are doing that work.”
Attacking the Congress, Modi said, “Those who have taken a U-turn may not listen to me, but I am sure they will agree with him… You should be proud. You should be saying that Modi is forced to do what Manmohan Singh had said. Be proud.”
Modi said the Left had raised objections even when former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri had carried out reforms for the Green Revolution. “They said Shastri is acting at the instance of the US, the Congress is doing it at the instance of the US. Saari cheezen jitni aaj mere khaate mein jama hain na, veh pehle aapke yahan ke account mein tha (All the things I am accused of, the Congress was blamed for earlier). Congress leaders used to be called America’s agents… They (the Left) said agricultural reforms would destroy small farmers. There was a big movement, thousands of demonstrations were taken out,” Modi said, adding that Shastri and governments after him had persisted with the reforms, resulting in India becoming self-reliant in food grain production.
He took on the Mamata Banerjee government over the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana. He said 10 crore poor farmer families had benefited from the scheme and “had politics not come in the way and had the farmers of Bengal too joined, the numbers would have shot up. So far Rs 1.15 lakh crore have reached the accounts of the farmers.”
Slamming the Opposition for giving him “sermons” on democracy, Modi said, “No Indian will believe what was said… I was listening to Derek (TMC MP Derek O’Brien). He used some wonderful words, ‘freedom of speech’, ‘intimidation’, ‘hounding’. I wondered if he was talking about Bengal or about the country. Naturally, when you are seeing and hearing the same thing 24 hours… he must have said that here by mistake.”
Turning to the Congress’s Partap Singh Bajwa, Modi said the MP had spoken for so long that he thought that in time he would get to the Emergency and 1984. “But he didn’t go there. The Congress disappoints the country a lot and you also disappointed,” he said to Bajwa.
Modi then quoted Subhas Chandra Bose, saying all those who raise doubts on democracy and on India’s basic strength, to try and understand it. “Our democracy is not a western institution in any sense. It is a human institution. India’s history is filled with examples of democratic institutions. We find mention of 81 republics in ancient India… India’s nationalism is neither narrow, nor selfish or aggressive. It is based on the notion of Satyam Shivam Sundaram. This quotation was of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Coincidentally we are celebrating his 125 birth anniversary. But unfortunately, knowingly or unknowingly, we have forgotten Netaji’s ideals,” he said, adding that India is not just the world’s largest democracy but “the mother of democracy”.
The Prime Minister went on to talk about how during the Emergency, the judiciary, media, government was subverted. “But the moment people got a chance, they reinstated democracy. That is the power of our people.”
Modi told the Opposition: “We have to decide whether we want to be part of the problem or solution.” Saying a thin line separates the two, he said, “If we become part of the problem then we can do politics, but if we become part of the solution then rashtraneeti (policy) will look splendid.”
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