New Delhi: Defending the new farm laws amid the ongoing farmers protest, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday quoted his predecessor Manmohan Singh who had once called for making one single market for agriculture produce.
Speaking in Rajya Sabha during his reply to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address, Modi referred to Manmohan Singh's earlier remarks to target those taking 'U-turn' over farm laws.
He said: "Manmohan Ji is here, I would 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 the 1930s which prevent our farmers from selling their produce where they get the 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'."
"Manmohan Singh Ji had made his intentions clear to give farmers the freedom to sell their produce, and have just one market. And we are doing it now. You all should be proud. 'See, what Manmohan Singh Ji had said, Modi is having to do now. (woh Modi ji ko karna pad raha hai). Be proud!" PM Modi said.
The Prime Minister's statement comes as the farmers are camped at different border points near the national capital since November 26 last year against the three newly enacted farm laws. The new laws - Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 - would benefit the corporates, the farmers allege.
Modi appealed to protesters to end their agitation and also hit out at those behind the protests, saying a new "breed" of agitators - "andolan jivi" - 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".
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.
On the farm sector and the ongoing protest, Modi said, "MSP was there. MSP is there. MSP will remain in the future. Affordable ration for the poor will continue. Mandis will be modernised".
Modi said 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. The PM-KISAN scheme was also brought in, he added.
(With inputs from agencies)