New Delhi, December 13
As farmers’ protest entered the third week, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Sunday accused Opposition parties of running a propaganda against the new farm laws and asserted that these legislations “may cause difficulty for some in the short term” but will be beneficial to farmers in the long run.
Tomar, who is leading negotiations with the 40 protesting farmer unions to break the deadlock, was addressing a delegation of over 100 farmers from Uttarakhand who came to extend their support to the laws.
Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary and Uttarakhand Education Minister Arvind Pandey were present in the meeting.
Addressing the delegation, Tomar said the government faced opposition when it revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. It also faced opposition when it brought the amended citizenship law as well as over the Ram temple issue.
“When the agricultural reforms were brought, there was opposition to this too…. There are some people who just oppose and weaken the country. This has become their nature,” the agriculture minister said.
On agricultural sector reforms, the discussion has been going on for last many years, Tomar said.
“Unfortunately the previous governments who wanted to reform were not able to it…,” he added.
Tomar stressed that for a new India, reforms are necessary.
“When reforms are undertaken it will benefit farmers in the long run. But in the short run, some may face difficulty. We know we can achieve no gain without difficulties,” the minister said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi doesn’t bring reform or schemes for the sake of current impact alone but for long-term benefit, Tomar said.
“Any good government or good leader is one who does such work that not only ensures the country’s safety for now but also boosts growth in the next hundred years,” the minister said.
The prime minister has fulfilled the long-pending demand of farmers, Tomar said.
Farmers’ leaders like Sharad Joshi of Shetkari Sangathan, Punjab’s Bhupinder Mann, NCP chief Sharad Pawar have been talking about these issues, he said, adding that agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan too raised this issue.
National Farmers Commission, Planning Commission and Niti Aayog also raised these issues but the previous governments did not do, he said.
“Manmohan Singh Ji (former Prime Minister) tried many times but could not do. Today when it is implemented, propaganda is being spread,” Tomar said.
The delegation of farmers had come from Bajpur, the Assembly Constituency of the Uttarkhand Education Minister. Only half of the 300-odd farmers were able to reach Tomar’s residence and the rest were stuck in traffic.
Speaking to PTI, the Uttarakhand Education Minister said farmers in Uttarakhand are in support of the farm laws enacted by the central government.
He, however, did not respond to a question about when the state government would notify these laws.
“The farmers protesting at borders here are our brothers. But they are misled by some force. We want some early solution,” he said.
Asked if the entire state’s farmers are in support of the laws, he said, “Our farmers in Uttarakhand are aware of the benefits of the laws, but the Opposition out there is instigating them. For the first time since Independence, this government has given freedom to farmers.” Further, the minister said paddy farmers of one block in Uttarakhand cannot sell their produce in another block because people associated with mandi and police catch and put them in jail.
“This government has given freedom to farmers through these new farm laws. They can now sell their produce wherever they get better price in any corner of the country,” he added.
Charanjeet Singh, a farmer with 10-12 acres of land from Bajpur assembly constituency, said, “Farmers protesting at borders are misled. Past governments could not bring reforms, which Modiji has dared to bring in agriculture. There might be some gaps, which can be addressed. It is not right to seek repeal of the laws.”
There should be consultation to improve the new laws further, but it should not be scrapped altogether, he said.
Asked if he was able to sell this year’s kharif paddy at minimum support price (MSP), he said, “This is an issue in Uttarakhand. Only 10 per cent of our produce is purchased at MSP from us. How much the government can buy? I feel these laws are good as they give freedom to sell outside mandis.”
Farmer unions, particularly in Punjab and Haryana, are protesting at various borders of the national capital for last 18 days seeking repeal of the three farm laws.
At least five round of talks between the Centre and 40 farmer unions’ leaders held so far have remained inconclusive. The government has sent a draft proposal along with written assurance of MSP to them for consideration, but farmer unions have rejected it and intensified their protest. PTI