Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Image: Twitter/@BJP4India)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on December 18 that the new farm reform laws were not brought in overnight and that they were discussed by every government over two decades.
Addressing farmers virtually as part of the ‘Kisan Kalyan Sammelan’, PM Modi slammed the opposition and said political parties should stop “misguiding” farmers.
“It has been six-seven months since the farm laws were implemented. But now suddenly, games are being played to plough one's own political land through a web of lies,” PM Modi said.
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The Prime Minister's comments came at a time when thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab and Haryana, are staging a sit-in protest along Delhi borders. The protest started on November 26.
The farmers are demanding a complete rollback of the new farm reform laws and a guarantee on the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system being retained.
Multiple rounds of talks between the Centre and the farmers’ union leaders have ended in a stalemate. Protesting farmers fear that the new laws will dismantle the MSP system and corporatise farming.
“Farm laws have not been introduced overnight. Over last 20-22 years, central and state government have had detailed discussions on these reforms. Agriculture experts, economists and progressive farmers have been demanding reforms,” PM Modi said.
“I request all political parties with folded hands, please keep all the credit. I am giving credit to all your old election manifestos. I just want ease in the life of farmers. I want their progress and want modernity in agriculture,” the prime minister added.
“If we had to remove MSP, why would we implement the Swaminathan Commission report?” PM Modi asked. “Our government is serious about MSP and that is why we declare it before the sowing season every year.”
PM Modi’s virtual address was reportedly telecast live across all district headquarters of Madhya Pradesh, where the Kisan Kalyan Sammelan was being held, and in 23,000 villages of the country.
As part of the event, the Madhya Pradesh government initiated transfer of Rs 1,600 crore to bank accounts of 35 lakh farmers as relief funds against crop loss.
In an open letter to protesting farmers, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar had also raised a similar point on December 17 when he said that consultations about the laws had taken place for two decades before the laws were passed.
In the letter, written in Hindi, Tomar had also sought to alleviate farmers’ concerns, saying that the system of MSP and agricultural produce market committees (APMCs) will not be stopped.