Ready to talk about every issue: PM

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday quoted the raised MSPs and increased procurement through the existing mandis in his strongest defence of the new farm laws. The PM urged the agitating farmers with folded hands to discuss all their doubts while hitting at the Opposition for rumour-mongering and lies for political ends.

Addressing the farmers in Raisen, Madhya Pradesh, the PM promised to assuage the concerns and cited the increased investments in irrigation, production of fertilisers, increased MSPs as per the Swaminathan Commission recommendations, and procurement of pulses and oil seeds in his tenure as compared to the last five years of UPA. Thus, providing evidence of the Government’s aim to usher in a new era of prosperity and increased farm incomes.

He also lashed out at the Opposition, primarily the Congress although he did not name the party, for the “biggest lie and misinformation ever” about the farm laws. He said he will address the issue once again on December 25.

“Those who are still suspicious, still have doubts (about farm laws) I urge them to reconsider. The MSPs have not been abolished and will not be abolished. The mandis were around, are still there and continue to be there. That which has not happened, will not happen. But please beware of those who are spreading rumours, lies and canards. They have always cheated the farmer,” said the PM.

“We are doing everything we can but even after these efforts, if there is any suspicion, I plead with you with folded hands that we are ready to talk about every issue. We are committed to reforms to bring in a new era of prosperity,” he added.

‘Take the credit, only want farmers’ benefit’

Modi said the farm laws, which remove stock holding limits on agri-produce, create a framework of contract farming, enabling private players to invest in warehousing, grading and other marketing infrastructure, and establish trade zones outside the APMC areas. He said: “The farm laws have not come overnight. They have been discussed for over 20-22 years by State and Central Governments as well as by various stakeholders, agriculture scientists and economists and progressive farmers.”

He added, “Actually, farmers should demand an answer from those who declared in their manifestoes their intent to implement these very laws and did not deliver because farmers were never their priority. But now that we are fulfilling the same promises that they made, they are pained not because of the farm laws but because they think that Modi will get credit for it. I beg them, take all the credit, I only want farmers’ benefit.”

“But stop misleading the farmers of this country for your political ends. You are firing from the farmers’ shoulders. The Government is repeatedly asking, the Agriculture Minister is repeatedly saying  – which clause is problematic, tell us. We will address these concerns. But they have no concrete suggestions,” he said.

The PM said he will “expose” those spreading myths about the farm laws and counted the various policy measures that increased procurement and MSPs especially on pulses and oil seeds, as evidence of the Government’s commitment towards increasing farmers’ income.

Game of policies and measures

“Those who are talking of the farmers, shedding crocodile tears, let me tell you how cruel they have been. They sat on the recommendations of M. S. Swaminathan Commission for eight long years while the farmers protested on the streets. It was us who dusted the report out of the mountain of files and implemented its recommendations,” the PM said.

“They promised farm loan waivers before every election but ask the farmers in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, how many of them have benefitted. I am shocked at their duplicity and the level to which they can stoop. They only benefited their own party cadre in the name of the farmer. But our intent is as pure as Gangajal and Narmada waters. In ten years, they said they have given ₹50,000 crore loan waiver whereas through PM-Kisan we are giving ₹75,000 crore every year, which makes it ₹7.5 lakh crore in ten years,” he said.

PM cited a host of policy measures to underline that the Government’s only aim is to help the farmers increase their income.

“I will remind them of their mismanagement, black-marketing in urea which was inaccessible to farmers. Today we are doing neem-coating of urea. We are restarting modern fertiliser manufacturing units in Gorakhpur, Barauni, Thalcher, and Ramagundam with an investment of ₹50-60,000 crore. If other governments were worried about farmers, over 100 irrigation projects would not have not been stalled for years. If the dam has been built, the canals were completed in time, and money would not have been wasted,” the PM added.

“We are spending crores in completing these projects on mission mode. We are trying to reduce input cost of farmers. We are carrying out a campaign to provide solar pumps to the farmers. We are encouraging fisheries through Blue Revolution, honey production, rearing cattle. Hone production has increased from 70,000 metric tonnes to 1.76000 metric tonnes. Farmer is exporting twice the quantum of honey than they did. Please examine our intent, track record and have confidence in the farm laws,” he said.

He added that it was an “outright lie” to say that the Government wants to do away with MSPs. He questioned the rationale for the farm laws being an instrument to do away with MSPs when in the six months since the laws were brought, record procurement was done through increased MSPs.

“If we had wanted to remove MSP, why would we implement Swaminathan Commission report? Even before the sowing starts, we announce MSPs. Farmers know the price before the sowing so that he can diversify and adopt to the market. For six months, these laws have been implemented and the MSPs have been in place just as the same procurement procedure was adopted even when the Covid-19 pandemic was raging. How can any sensible person believe that MSP would be scrapped? There can be no bigger lie or conspiracy.”

The PM said: “I want to reassure the farmer that the MSP would never be scrapped. Compare the MSP of every produce in the last five years of UPA and the last five years of NDA – on wheat it has risen from ₹1,400 per quintal to ₹1,900 per quintal. On paddy, it rose from ₹1,310 to ₹1,870 per quintal. On Jwar, from ₹1,520 to ₹2,640 per quintal. On Masur Dal, from ₹1,950 to ₹5,100 per quintal. On Chana, from ₹3,100 to ₹5,100 per quintal. On Tur Dal, from ₹4,300 to ₹6,000 per quintal. On Mung Dal, from ₹4,500 to ₹7,200 per quintal. This is evidence of sincerity and commitment to MSP.”

The PM then set out to dismantle what he said was the “APMC myth.”

“Another lie is on APMC mandis. What have we done is to give an alternative to the farmers. If someone wants to sell soap, the Government does not decide where he will sell. But in the last 70 years, the Government has been telling the farmer that you can sell only in one mandi. The only thing we have done is to ensure that if the farmer’s interest lies outside the mandi, he should be able sell outside the mandi. The mandi  is also functional and the market outside has opened up. The farmer has already started selling outside. Can anybody tell me why the farmer should not get this right? All we are trying to do is penance for the sin that has been committed by tying the farmers to mandis,” he said.

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