NEW DELHI: Replying to the motion of thanks on the President's address in the Lok Sabha, PM Modi on Wednesday described the farmers' protest as a "pavitra aandolan" which had been brought into disrepute by the "aandolan-jivi" (who make a living out of protests).
Warming up to the theme, PM Modi said ‘andolan’ was important in democracy but people must understand the difference between professional protestors and real agitators. "What is the point in destroying mobile towers in Punjab? What is its connection with the farm laws?" he demanded.
He also underscored that India will emerge as a strong player in a post-coronavirus world. "The post-COVID world is turning out to be very different. In such times, remaining isolated from global trends will be counter-productive. We'll have to emerge as a strong player. That is why, India is working towards building an Aatmanirbhar Bharat," the prime minister said.
He also asserted that the three farm laws enacted in September are not binding on farmers but are optional and give them additional choice. He challenged the farmers to prove to the contrary, if anything has been snatched from them. He described the continuous ruckus by the Opposition, while he was replying to the debate in the Lok Sabha, as a well-thought out strategy to drown his submissions.
As Modi spoke about the laws and the protestors, most Congress MPs staged a walkout from the Lok Sabha.
Unlike his combative speech in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, Modi kept his cool despite 20 minutes of din and pandemonium, until it died down, to let him speak without any further interruptions. He said his government wants to take the nation forward and cited the decisions taken by it that nobody had called for; the farm laws fell in this category.
Explaining why his government has been opposed to status quo since he came to power, Modi said there have been no investments in agriculture and therefore the urgency to modernise and make farmers self-dependant.
The Prime Minister said 80 to 85 per cent of those engaged in agriculture are small farmers, whose fragmented holding are becoming smaller and smaller; he recalled the late Prime Minister Chaudhury Charan Singh having said that a day will come when the holdings will be so small that a farmer won’t be able to even turn a tractor in his field.
The PM cited how the number of farm labourers has gone up from 28 per cent to 55 per cent; their land holdings have become so small that they are compelled to work in others' fields.