Union ministers say government is committed to farmers’ welfare amid protests against farm laws
No company can take land from any farmer as long as Narendra Modi is prime minister, Union Interior Minister Amit Shah said on Friday while attacking the opposition over agricultural reforms. Shah insisted that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system will continue and mandis will not be closed.
Addressing a meeting in New Delhi to mark the birth anniversary of the late former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Shah accused the opposition of spreading lies about the three farm laws enacted in September. He maintained that the laws, which have sparked protests, would benefit farmers. Shah said the farmers praised the Minister of Agriculture, Narendra Singh Tomar, because they knew the laws benefited them. He added that if farmers’ organizations feel that 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 Modi a clear mandate. And the top priority of the Modi government is the well-being of the farmers, ”Shah said. He added that the Modi government implemented the long-standing farmer demand to ensure that MSP is at least equal to the cost of growing a crop.
Shah said the Modi government has raised huge welfare funds for farmers. He added that when Modi introduced Prime Minister Kisan Samman Nidhi’s direct cash transfer scheme for farmers, opposition leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, demanded farm loan waivers.
“In 10 years, the [previous Congress-led] UPA [United Progressive Alliance] the government gave up loans worth Rs 60 billion. In just two and a half years, Modi provided Rs95,000 crore to 10 crore [100 million] farmers, ”Shah said.
“… when Sharad Pawar was minister of agriculture, in 2013-14, the budget for farmers was 21.9 billion rupees. Now under Modi, it has reached Rs134,000 crore. It’s a case of the pot calling the black kettle. Those who talk about the well-being of farmers, what did they 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 the Kishangarh village of Delhi.
Other central ministers addressed similar events across the country.
In New Delhi’s Dwarka, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh suggested that farmers should watch the farm laws work for a year or two. He added that in case it is not considered beneficial, the government will bring the necessary amendments. Singh called out to the protesting farmers his own people. “Those who are organizing a sit-in [against the laws] we 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 on the borders of Delhi for almost a month in protest against the three laws.
Singh called himself the son of a farmer and said that the government will never do anything against the interests of farmers. “People are trying to mislead farmers about these farm laws. I am the son of a farmer and I have worked on farms. I want to assure you that there is not a single provision in these laws that is against farmers. “
Trade union minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who addressed a farmers’ meeting in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, said the government is committed to “protecting and promoting” the well-being of farmers. Naqvi said that political parties, who know nothing about agriculture, are damaging the interests of farmers.
The BJP had drawn up an elaborate plan to uphold the three laws and union ministers such as Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, Thaawar Chand Gehlot and Ramesh Pokhriyal are scheduled to travel across the country to counter “misinformation” about them.