No corporate can snatch away any farmer’s land as long as Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister, Union home minister Amit Shah said on Friday as he attacked the opposition over agriculture reforms. Shah insisted the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system will continue and mandis will not be shut down.
Addressing a gathering in New Delhi to mark late former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birth anniversary, Shah accused the opposition of spreading lies about the three farm laws enacted in September. He maintained the laws, which have triggered protests, would benefit farmers. Shah said farmers were lauding agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar as they knew the laws are in their interest. He added if farmer organisations feel some provisions of the laws are not in their interest, the government is ready to discuss them with an open mind.
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“In 2014 and 2019, ending an era of coalition governments, farmers gave a clear mandate to Modi. And the top priority of the Modi government is the welfare of farmers,” said Shah. He added the Modi government implemented the long-standing demand of farmers to ensure MSP is at least equal to the cost of growing a crop.
Shah said the Modi government has hugely raised welfare funds for farmers. He added when Modi introduced the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi direct cash-transfer scheme for the farmers, opposition leaders, including Rahul Gandhi demanded farm loan waivers.
“In 10 years, the [previous Congress-led] UPA [United Progressive Alliance] government waived loans worth Rs60,000 crore. In just two and a half years, Modi provided Rs95,000 crore to 10 crore [100 million] farmers,” Shah said.
“…when Sharad Pawar was the agriculture minister, in 2013-14, the budget for farmers was Rs21,900 crore. Now, under Modi, it has reached Rs134,000 crore. It is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Those who talk about the welfare of the farmers, what did you do when they were in power?”
Shah attended Modi’s virtual interaction with farmers along with other Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders at a Gaushala in Delhi’s Kishangarh village.
Other central ministers addressed similar events across the country.
In New Delhi’s Dwarka, defence minister Rajnath Singh suggested that farmers should see how the farm laws work for a year or two. He added that in case they are not found to be beneficial, the government will bring necessary amendments. Singh called the protesting farmers his own people. “Those who are staging a sit-in [against the laws] are farmers…We have a lot of respect for them.”
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana, and parts of Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at Delhi’s borders for almost a month in protest against the three laws.
Singh called himself a farmer’s son and said the government will never do anything against the farmers’ interests. “People are trying to mislead farmers about these farm laws. I am the son of a farmer and have worked on farms. I want to assure you there is not a single provision in these laws that is against farmers.”
Union minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who addressed a farmers’ gathering in Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur, said the government is committed to the “protection and promotion” of farmers’ welfare. Naqvi said political parties, which know nothing about agriculture, were hurting farmers’ interests.
The BJP had drawn an elaborate plan to defend the three laws and union ministers like Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Ramesh Pokhriyal are scheduled to travel across the country to counter “misinformation” about them.
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