Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday made a fervent appeal to protesters to end their agitation against the new farm laws. Replying to the Motion of Thanks on the President's address in Rajya Sabha, PM Modi also questioned the opposition parties for their sudden 'U-turn' on the reforms.
He said that since 2014 his government has initiated changes in the agriculture sector aimed at empowering the farmer. The crop insurance scheme was changed to make it more farmer friendly. PM Modi said that Rs 90,000 crore of claims cleared under crop insurance. This amount bigger than loan waiver. "Loan waiver does not benefit small farmers as they don't have banks accounts or take loans," he said.
The PM-KISAN scheme was also brought in, he added. "We are working for the small farmers," he said, adding that Rs 1.15 lakh crore paid into account of farmers under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi and accused the Mamata Banerjee government of blocking the PM-KISAN in West Bengal.
"Sharad Pawar ji, and those from Congress, everyone... all governments have stood for agricultural reforms. Whether they were able to do it or not, but everyone has advocated that it should be done," PM Modi said.
He also quoted former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the need for reforms in the farm sector and said Congress should take pride that Modi had to do what the former Prime Minister wanted.
"Manmohan ji is here, I'd read out his quote. Those taking a U-Turn (farm laws) will perhaps agree with him -- "There are other rigidities because of marketing regime set up in 1930s which prevent our farmers from selling their produce where they get highest rate of return. It is our intention to remove all those handicaps which come in the way of India realising its vast potential at one large common market."
He said that despite record production, there are problems in agriculture sector and solutions have to be found together.
Give farm laws a chance
"Give agri reforms a chance, open to changes," the Prime Minister said. "MSP was there. MSP is there. MSP will remain in the future. Affordable ration for the poor will continue. Mandis will be modernised," he said.
The Prime Minister also hit out at those behind the protests, saying a new "breed" of agitators has emerged in the country who cannot live without an agitation and the country should be beware of them.
He also said the new FDI (Foreign Destructive Ideology) has emerged in the country and "we need to be more aware to save the country from such ideology".
PM Modi also stressed that India is very proud of the contribution of Sikhs and the language used by some for them will not benefit the country. He alleged that some people are also trying to defame Sikhs.
"This is a community that has done so much for the nation. The country takes pride in the contribution of Sikhs, but some people are trying to defame them. The words and blessings of the Guru Sahibs are precious. The language used by some for them will not benefit the country," he said.