Even amid intensifying farmers' protests in the frontiers of national capital Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday once again defended the farm laws enacted by the central government and said that the agricultural reforms are actually in the interest of farmers, but the opposition is using 'tricks' to mislead the peasant community.
"New agricultural reforms have given farmers new options and legal protection," said the prime minister after inaugurating the six-lane widening project of the Varanasi - Prayagraj section of NH-19 today in Varanasi.
He said that the farm laws enacted by the central government "empower" the farmers by giving them options for a bigger market.
"Reforms in the interest of farmers"
"Reforms are being done in the interest of farmers, which will give them more options. Shouldn't a farmer get the freedom to sell his produce directly to those who give them better prices and facilities?" Prime Minister Modi asked.
Speaking on the ocassion, the prime minister cited an example of how the farmers are benefiting from the government's efforts and modern infrastructure. He said black rice was introduced 2 years ago in Chandauli to increase the income of the farmers. Last year, a farmer committee was formed and around 400 farmers were given this rice to grow in the Kharif season. While normal rice sells for Rs 35-40 a kg, this black rice was sold for up to Rs 300 a kg. For the first time, this rice has been exported to Australia, that too at the rate of around Rs. 800 per kg.
The Prime Minister said India's agricultural products are famous all over the world. He asked why farmers shouldn't have access to this big market and higher prices and said the new agricultural reforms have given farmers new options and new legal protection and at the same time the old system also continues if someone chooses to stay with that.
He said earlier, transactions outside the mandi were illegal but now the small farmer can take legal action on the transactions outside the mandi as well.
'Criticism based on mere apprehensions'
The Prime Minister said governments make policies, laws and regulations. Criticizing the opposition, he said earlier the decisions of the government were opposed but now the criticism is based on mere apprehensions. He said confusion is spread in society about what has not happened yet, which will never happen. He said these are the same people who have consistently tricked the farmers for decades.
Continuing on the duplicity of the past, the Prime Minister said MSP was declared, but a very meager MSP purchase used to take place. This deception went on for years. Large loan waiver packages were announced in the name of farmers, but they did not reach the small and marginal farmers. He added big schemes were announced in the name of farmers but earlier regimes themselves believed that out of 1 rupee, only 15 paisa reached the farmer, which is deceit in the name of schemes.
The Prime Minister said when history has been full of deception, then two things are natural. The first is that there is decades of history behind the farmers being apprehensive about the promises of governments. Secondly, it has become a compulsion for those who break the promises, to spread the lie that what used to take place before, is still going to happen.
'Look at the track record of the central government'
He said when you see the track record of this government, the truth will come out automatically.
The government delivered on the promise of stopping the black marketing of urea and giving enough urea to the farmers, Modi said, adding, "The government delivered on the promise of fixing MSP at 1.5 times the cost in line with the recommendation of the Swaminathan Commission. This promise was not only fulfilled on paper, but has reached the bank account of the farmers."
The Prime Minister said in the five years before 2014, pulses of around Rs 6.5 crores were procured from the farmer. But in the subsequent 5 years, pulses worth about Rs 49000 crore were procured, that is, about 75 times increase. In the 5 years prior to 2014, paddy worth Rs 2 lakh crores were purchased.
"But in the subsequent 5 years, we have passed 5 lakh crore rupees as MSP of paddy to the farmers. That is, almost two and a half times more money has reached the farmer. In the 5 years before 2014, farmers got around Rs. 1.5 lakh crore on the purchase of wheat. In the subsequent 5 years, wheat farmers have got Rs 3 lakh crores i.e. around 2 times. Why the Government would spend so much if the mandis and the MSP were to be dismantled" PM Modi stressed.
He highlighted that the government is spending crores of rupees to modernize the mandis.
Criticizing the opposition, the Prime Minister said, these are the people who used to raise questions about PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, spreading the rumor that this money is being given in view of the elections and after the election the same money will have to be given back with interest.
He added that in a state, where the opposition government is there, due to its political interest, farmers are not allowed to take advantage of this scheme. He said assistance is being provided directly to the bank accounts of more than 10 crore farmer families of the country. So far, about 1 lakh crore rupees have been reached to the farmers.
'Intentions as pure as gangajal'
The Prime Minister said decades of deceit make farmers apprehensive but now there is no deceit, work is being done with intentions "as pure as Gangajal.
He remarked that the truth of those who spread illusions on the basis of mere apprehensions is being constantly exposed before the country.
"When farmers understand their lies, then they start spreading lies on another subject. The government is also constantly answering those farmer families who still have some concerns," said the prime minister.
He expressed confidence that those farmers who have some doubts on agricultural reforms today, will also take advantage of these agricultural reforms in future and increase their income.
Farmers' protests continue unabated
Meanwhile, the ongoing protests by thousands of farmers against the Centre's new farm laws entered the fifth day on Monday, with the protesters threatening to block all five entry points to the national capital.
Rejecting the Centre's offer to hold talks once they move to the Burari ground, the farmers said they will not accept any conditional dialogue and have called a meeting to discuss their next course of action later in the day.
Farmers, who had reached the Nirankarai Samagam Ground in Burari on Saturday, continued their protest there while traffic continued to be disrupted in the city due to the protests.