Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Wednesday disapproved of remarks like ‘Naxal’ and ‘Khalistani’ for farmers opposed to the new agriculture laws, saying “such allegations should not be made by anyone” against any farmer. He also recalled the sacrifices of the Sikh community and said “there can be no question on their integrity”.
In an interview with news agency ANI, when he was asked about some from his own party who were giving farmers the labels of Naxal and Khalistani, Singh said: “I think that such allegations against farmers… I don’t know who has said what… should not be made by anyone. Kisan kisan hai (a farmer is a farmer). From the bottom of our hearts, we express our deepest respect for farmers. At all times, our heads bow in respect for the farmers of India. They are our annadata.”
“Whenever there has been a spell of economic crisis in the country, if there’s anyone who has taken up the task of stabilising the economy, it has been the farmer. Even in times of economic recession and economic slump. Speak to the economists, they will tell you this. Our farmers are the strength of our country’s economy, agriculture its backbone,” he said.
“India can never forget the sacrifices made by our Sikh brothers in defence of national pride. It can never be forgotten. And our Sikh brothers have contributed in a very big way to protect India’s culture. Their contribution in defence of India’s pride, India’s culture was there in the past, is there today and will be there tomorrow,” he said.
Reiterating that the three farm laws have been made for the farmers, he said they should wait for its implementation to see the results.
A former agriculture minister, Singh said: “My suggestion to the farmers is that there should be a logical debate on every clause of the farm laws. If they feel that there is anything that is against the interests of farmers, the government will do the needful to address their problems.”
“The fact is that the three farm Bills have been made keeping in mind the interests of farmers. Being one of the most senior members of the Cabinet, I have had the opportunity of interacting with Prime Minister Modi on several issues. I have seen him expressing concern on the issues of farmers. Even before the 2014 election campaign, he had thought of doubling the income of farmers,” he said.
Singh said “some forces” have tried to create misunderstanding about the laws. “We will find a resolution to the problem. I have seen the laws and I am aware of the problems of the farmers. The farmers should at least watch the implementation of these laws for two years as an experiment. We will be ready to make necessary amendments if there is need. If farmers want experts to talk to the government on amendments to certain clauses, we are entirely flexible,” he said.
He rejected the allegation that the government has been insensitive to farmers. “There is no question of being insensitive as far as the subject of farmers is concerned. Our farmers are holding demonstrations, and I am not the only one pained. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pained as well,” he said.
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