Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 15
Amid the ongoing farmer protests at Delhi borders against the Farm Acts, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday again reiterated that the three farm laws have been rolled out keeping in mind farmers and their interests and slammed Opposition parties for misleading and instigating them.
Meanwhile, firm on their stated stance, unions and ‘jathebandis’ accused the government of trying to drive a wedge in their unity using issues like SYL canal and called Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s meetings with “so-called famer leaders illusionary/diversionary tactics”.
Speaking in Gujarat, where he unveiled various projects, including a desalination plant, a hybrid renewable energy park and automated milk processing and packing plant, the Prime Minister questioned, “Can any dairy owner who enters into a contract with a dairy farmer for buying milk take away his buffalo.”
Assuring that farmers’ lands will remain safe, the PM said the laws will benefit all, including small and marginal farmers who will also have the same freedom as dairy farmers to sell their produce to who they want.
“Opposition leaders are misleading farmers for narrow political gains,” he said, adding that the government is there to resolve any “issues/doubts farmers might have 24 hours. The farm laws are for your benefit. Different parts of the country have given them their blessings. I am sure ‘jagrook’ (aware/progressive) farmers of the country will defeat those spreading lies and misleading them”.
The PM said agriculture reforms are exactly what farmer bodies and even opposition parties have been asking for years. He also met members of farming community, including Sikh cultivators settled in areas near the Indo-Pak border.
Union leaders slammed the government, saying that while on one side the PM is “assuring farmers on the other he is asking corporates to come invest in agriculture sector”.
“How else will you interpret his speech in FICCI two days back,” questioned BKU leader Yudhvir Singh.
“If the PM has ‘raj-hat’, we (farmers) also have ‘kisan-hat’, don’t underestimate us or try to drive a wedge in our unity. The power on the basis of which he (PM) is speaking, we have given him that power. There have been prime ministers in the past who have opened their doors to us whenever we had any issue, but he (PM Modi) has not met a single ‘kisan jathebandi’ in past six years. Farmers know they have made a wrong choice (by electing him),” Yudhvir Singh said, dismissing as “diversionary and illusionary” the talks between Tomar and union leaders demanding that laws not be repealed.
“He (Tomar) should ask them to end this agitation then,” unions said.
Now that it is almost clear that the laws will not be repealed — several ministers have said it in as many words — it is also becoming increasingly evident that the government is constructing evidence in favour of the laws through the same section opposing the laws.
Today, Tomar met members of BKU (Kisan) from Uttar Pradesh who “welcomed” the Farm Acts. They also submitted a memorandum with suggestions regarding the Farm Acts and MSP, according to an official statement. Tomar told them that “Acts have been welcomed in various States and that the Government is willing to continue dialogue with genuine farm unions find a solution with an open mind”.
“MSP is an administrative decision and will continue as it is,” he said.
BKU (Kisan) leaders suggested farmers be given the option of going to Civil Courts and suggested that the panchayat head be accorded same importance as the head of the ‘mandi’ to safeguard farmers and demanding reduction in electricity rates for irrigation.