PM Asks Farmers To Resume Talks, Calls Protest ‘Pavitra’

Emphasising the need to work towards self-reliance of farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that the new farm laws have been brought to ease difficulties in agriculture and called upon protesting farmers to resume talks with the government over their demands.

Replying to the debate in Lok Sabha on the motion of thanks on the President’s Address, the Prime Minister took digs at Congress over its opposition to the farm laws and for interrupting his speech.

Modi also said that he considers the ‘Kisan Andolan’ as ‘pavitra’ (pious) and slammed the ‘Andolanjeevis’ for hijacking the protest.

“I consider the Kisan Andolan to be ‘pavitra’. The movement has importance in India’s democracy, but, when Andolanjeevis hijack protests, showcases photos of those jailed for serious offences, does it serve any purpose? Not allowing toll plazas to work, destroying telecom towers in Punjab. Does it serve pious protests,” PM Modi said

He said that using “improper words against the private sector” may have got votes for a few people in the past but those times are gone.

“We are working for the country. I once again urge farmers to come for talks and resolve the issues,” the Prime Minister said.

Farmers have been protesting on the borders of Delhi since November 26 against new farm laws. Several rounds of talks have been held with farmers over their demand for repeal of three new laws.

The Prime Minister devoted a substantial part of his speech addressing the concerns regarding the farm laws.

He said for any modern society, change is important and for fear of being unsuccessful not to strive to reform is unacceptable.

He said farmers will improve their situation but “they need reforms and guidance to new markets to become self-reliant.”

“Our farmer becomes ‘atmanirbhar’, has the freedom to sell his produce, there is need to work in that direction,” he said.

Referring to opposition jibes at the government that why did it bring the farm laws when farmers had not demanded them, the Prime Minister said he was surprised at the argument.

“I am surprised for the first time an argument has come – why did you provide when we did not ask. Accepting/refusing depends on you. It is not compulsory. Nobody had demanded law against dowry, still, it was made for the nation’s progress. Laws were made against triple talaq and child marriage for progress ,” he said.

“For any modern society, change is important. We have seen protests and agitations in the past, like Raja Ram Mohun Roy, Dr Ambedkar all protested against the norm. A larger interest needs to be served. No one demanded Kisan Samman Nidhi, toilets, good connectivity,” he added.

Congress and TMC MPs staged a walkout during PM Modi’s reply to the debate in the House.

Referring to the orderly debate on the motion of thanks in Rajya Sabha and Congress not staging a walkout in the upper House, he said the party has adopted different stances.

“Congress party is divided and confused. Neither it can work for its own good nor it can think about solving the issues of the country. What can be more unfortunate than this?” he asked.

“Opposition is behaving like ‘I won’t play, I won’t let you play and will spoil your game besides’. I want to remind the Congress that the public sector is essential but at the same time, role of the private sector is also vital. Take any sector- telecom, pharma – we see the role of the private sector. If India is able to serve humanity, it is also due to the role of the private sector,” he said.

“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 added.

Noting that agriculture is the basis of much of the country’s culture and economy, the Prime Minister said country’s festivals are associated with planting and reaping of crops.

“I spoke at length in the Rajya Sabha about small farmers. They cannot be neglected and we must do something for them,” he said.

PM Modi said that over 50 per cent of India’s population is engaged in agriculture and the sector needs reforms.

“With rising population in India, fragmentation of land also rises. Choudhary Charan Singh had said that fragmentation may reach a level where to turn a tractor one may trespass into another’s land. At the time of India’s independence, 28 per cent population was engaged in agriculture, now it is more than 50 per cent. Many are forced to work on other people’s fields. We must, therefore, reform the sector to ensure that our farmers have options to sell and grow their crops,” he said.

“I strongly believe that our farmers will improve their situation but they need reforms, help and guidance to new markets. It will improve the agro-based industry and the economy of rural India. Our ‘annadata’ should be prosperous and it is our responsibility to give him the opportunity to do so. Till the time we bring investment and new technologies to our agriculture, we will not be able to make our farming sector strong. We need to go beyond growing only wheat and paddy,” he added.

He also referred to remarks of NCP leader Sharad Pawar.

“‘State took the initiative to amend state APMC Act in 2005, providing for direct marketing, contract farming, private market, consumer farmer markets and notified rules in 2007 to implement the amended provision. Twenty-four private markets have come up in state’ – it was said by then Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar,” the Prime Minister said.

Pitching for more private sector investment in agriculture, the Prime Minister said the government alone does not have resources to do so.

He said that greater investment will also lead to more employment opportunities.

“During COVID-19 period, we used the Kisan rail. This train is cold storage on the go. Another important thing that we have done is to make 10,000 FPOs. I believe that small farmers will become powerful after the creation of 10,000 FPOs. These will emerge as a huge force for small farmers,” he said. (ANI)

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