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Farmers agitation was hijacked by “Andolanjeevis”, says Modi
New Delhi, February 10, 2021
Stating that there was great respect among the top leadership for the farmers voicing their views on the farm Bills, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today regretted the violence during the agitation after it was “hijacked by the Andolanjeevis.”
Replying to the debate in the Lok Sabha on the motion of thanks to the President for his address to a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament, Modi said, “This House, the Government and we all respect the farmers who are voicing their views on the farm bills. This is the reason why topmost Ministers of the Government are constantly talking to them. There is great respect for the farmers."
As the protest by the farmers on Delhi's borders entered the 77th day, Modi urged them to resolve their issues through discussion with the government, he said the provisions in three new contentious farm laws, which the protesters want repealed, were optional and not compulosy.
He said the laws provided the farmers with options to sell their produce outside the "Mandis", without taking away any of the existing arrangements or benefits.
He appealed to the farmers to not fall prey to the rumours being spread against the three new laws and the Central government and discuss the issues without hesitation to break the deadlock. The farmers and the Government have held several rounds of talks but they proved to be inconclusive.
"After the laws relating to agriculture were passed by Parliament no Mandi has shut. Likewise, the Minimum Support Price (MSP) has remained. Procurement on MSP has remained. The Budget has proposed to strengthen the Mandis. These facts cannot be ignored," he said.
The Prime Minister said those who were disrupting the House were doing so as per a well-planned strategy. They were unable to digest that people were seeing through their games and the trust of the people can never be won.
Countering the argument that the government was pushing a reform which has not been asked for, he said it was all optional. “But we cannot wait for things to be asked. Many progressive legislations came due to the demand of the times. The thinking that forces people to ask or beg cannot be a democratic one. We should take responsibility and keep working for the welfare of the people according to the needs of the country. We have worked for the change in the country and if the intention is right, good results are bound to be there,” he added.
“Agriculture is part of the society and culture and our festivities and all occasions are connected with sowing and harvesting. More than 80% of our population cannot be ignored, small farmers cannot be ignored. Fragmentation of landholding is leading to a worrisome situation where farmers are not getting viable returns from their fields, investment in agriculture is suffering.
“Steps are required for small farmers. Therefore, we need to work for making our farmers Aatmnirbhar (self-reliant) and give him the freedom to sell his harvest and infuse diversity in crops. He stressed that investment in agriculture will lead to more employment. We need to provide our farmers with a level playing field, modern technology and instil confidence in them. This will require positive thinking as old ways and parameters will not work,” the Prime Minister said.
Stressing said that the laws were passed by Parliament as reforms in the agriculture sector were the need of the hour, he said those objecting to them had not been able to point out anything specific in it that was against the interests of the farmers.
"We are still ready to hold further rounds of talks with the farmers with open heart and take their suggestions on these three farm laws," Modi said.
He asserted that the public sector is essential but at the same time the role of the private sector is also vital. "Take any sector -- telecom, pharma --and we see the role of the private sector. If India was able to serve humanity, it was also due to the role of the private sector.
“To use improper words against the private sector may have got votes for a few people in the past but those times are gone. The culture of abusing the private sector is not acceptable any longer. We cannot keep insulting our youth like this,” he said.
On the violence during the stir, he said, “I consider the Kisan Andolan to be Pavitra. But, when Andolanjeevis hijack Pavitra Andolans, showcase photos of those jailed for serious offences, does it serve any purpose? Not allowing toll plazas to work, destroying telecom towers -- does it serve a Pavitra Andolan?”
“It is important to differentiate between ‘Andolankari’ and ‘Andolanjivi’. There are people who talk about the right things. But this same section, when it comes to doing the right things, fail to convert words into action. Those who talk big on electoral reforms oppose One Nation One Election. They speak of gender justice but oppose Triple Talaq. Such people mislead the nation,“ he added.
Modi said the President’s address showcased India's "Sankalp Shakti". His words have boosted the spirit of confidence among the people.
He noted that, during the discussion, a large number of women MPs took part and congratulated them for enriching the House proceedings with their thoughts.
Tracing the historical trajectory of the world order after the World Wars, the Prime Minister pointed out that the post-COVID world is turning out to be very different. In such times, remaining isolated from the global trends will be counterproductive. That is why, India was working towards building an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, which seeks to further global good. He said that India becoming stronger and Aatmanirbhar is good for the world.
“Vocal-for-local is not the thinking of any particular leader but is resonating with the people in every nook and corner of the country. Credit for the handling of Corona goes to 130 crore Indians. Our doctors, nurses, COVID warriors, Safai Karamcharis, those who drove ambulances...such people and so many others became manifestations of the divine who strengthened India's fight against the global pandemic,” said the Prime Minister.
He said that, during the pandemic, the government could help the affected people through direct benefit transfer of 2 lakh crore rupees directly in their accounts.
"Our Jan-Dhan-Aadhar-Mobile (JAM) Trinity made a positive difference in people's lives. It helped the poorest of the poor, the marginalised and the downtrodden. The reforms continued during the pandemic also and this is creating new momentum in our economy and there is the hope of double-digit growth," he said.
The Prime Minister said the government was working for strengthening infrastructure to create new opportunities for the poor and middle class. It was focussing on taking the country towards balanced development. The Government was working in mission mode for eastern India that included Petroleum projects, roads, airports, waterways, CNG, LPG coverage, net connectivity projects.
The Prime Minister also pointed out that the government was taking steps to undo the historical neglect of the border infrastructure. The defence forces were fulfilling their responsibility of protecting the border, he said lauding the soldiers for their bravery, strength and sacrifice.
The opposition created a ruckus when the Prime Minister was delivering his speech with Congress floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury repeatedly disrupting his address, and Modi said that this "uproar is an attempt under pre-decided strategy".
"It will not help you (Congress) in gaining support of the people. Farm reforms are very important. It is necessary. Congress members should have discussed on content and intent of these farm laws, they should not misguide farmers and spread rumours."
Dubbing Congress a "confused party', the Prime Minister claimed that "neither this party can do good for itself nor to the country".
He said that its members in Rajya Sabha participated in a fair debate and in Lok Sabha, they have a different opinion.
Taking on Congress's comment as to who had demanded the three farm laws, the Prime Minister said several reforms have already been done in the country without any demand and these were only done for the welfare of the citizens.
From anti-dowry law, child marriage, right of property to daughters, right to education, Swachhata scheme, 'Har Ghar Shauchalya' (toilet for every household) scheme to Ayushman Bharat scheme, the Prime Minister said all those steps were taken without any demand because his government does not want to make citizens "yachak" (seekers), but "we want them to give their rights to improve their confidence".
"That time has gone when the citizens had to make demands to get anything."
Modi also accused the Opposition of taking a U-turn on farm laws, saying that Nationalist Congress Party Chief Sharad Pawar, who was the Agriculture Minister in Dr Manmohan Singh's government, and other Congress members had earlier supported agriculture reforms.
"Now, the Congress wants to misguide people," he said.