On a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that farmers’ prosperity is his government's priority, the angry farmers decided to intensify their stir and go on hunger strike on December 14. While inaugurating the 93rd annual general meeting of FICCI, PM Modi stressed that the farm reforms unleashed by his government offer new markets to the farmers. He dwelt at length on the steps taken by his government to help the farmers and the agri-sector.
PM Modi pointed out that the private sector's investment in agriculture is not up to the mark. He said in the field of supply chain, cold storage and areas like fertilisers, both interest and investment of the private sector is needed. He said there is a huge scope in rural agro-based industries and a friendly policy regime is in place for that.
The Prime Minister said: “Through policy and intention (niti aur niyat), the government is committed to the welfare of the farmers.” He said that the new farm reforms have opened up new alternatives for farmers to sell their produces outside the mandis and on electronic platforms.
He underlined that all the reforms initiated by the government are to make the farmer prosperous as a prosperous farmer means a prosperous Nation.
Making a strong pitch for the positive change happening in the rural, semi-rural and tier-2 and tier-3 cities, the Prime Minister invited the senior business and industry leaders to take benefit of the opportunities in such areas.
However, the farmers’ union leaders made it clear that their main demand will remain the scrapping of the three contentious farm laws introduced by the BJP-led government.
The Congress lambasted the Modi government of labelling the protesters as “Maoist” and “anti-nationals” They urged the Centre to accede to the demands of the protesting farmers.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar claimed that some . “anti-social elements” were taking undue advantage of the farmers’ protest for their own vested interests.
Attacking the BJP-led government, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Saturday said all the 'ministers' who 'defamed' the protesting farmers by calling them 'Khalistanis' and 'anti-national' must apologise to them publicly.
Badal questioned why the Central government is showing 'tyranny' and not repealing the laws when the farmers are not happy with it. “The Centre is trying to defame agitation by calling it that of Khalistanis and political parties. It is unfortunate that if one disagrees with them, they call them anti-nationals,” Badal said.
The farmers' agitation on the borders of Delhi, entered the 17th day on Saturday. The farmers' unions now have threatened to block railway tracks and highways. The police have stepped up vigil on the border areas to avoid any untoward incident.