Replying to the debate on the President’s address in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, the Prime Minister yet again reiterated that the government was ready to make changes in the farm reform legislations and that there was no move to discontinue the procurement of farm produce under the Minimum Support Price mechanism.
Modi also appealed to the protesting farmers to return home, since the reforms posed no threat to their livelihoods but were only meant to better the lot of small and medium farmers. The PM castigated certain domestic and foreign groups for inciting the farmers, for fanning discontent and disinformation against well-meaning government initiatives and generally fomenting unrest in the country. He had a special word for freelancer-activists who showed up wherever, whenever there was an opportunity to wade into a protest, desperate for relevance as they were.
In a half-mocking tone, he said for the anti-India elements, the acronym FDI had now come to mean Foreign Destructive Ideology. Without mentioning the Khalistani elements by name, he warned that the government was committed to uphold national integrity and honour and, in this context, recalled the huge contribution and commitment of the Sikh community to nation-building. It was a conciliatory speech, aimed at reaching out to the farmers, who have pitched their tents at the borders leading into the national capital for over two months, demanding the repeal of the farm reforms.
Modi defended the reforms while offering to allay all the apprehensions and doubts of the farmers. In the course of his reply to the debate on the President’s address, Modi ticked off the Opposition for inciting the farmers, asking it not to mislead them, especially when they too had been supporters of the same reforms only a few years ago. Whether the protesting farmers would return to the negotiating table was not clear but the PM had yet again extended the olive branch.