Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the dedication of 6-lane Prayagraj-Varanasi section of NH-19, in Varanasi, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. (PTI)
Varanasi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday accused the opposition parties of misleading farmers and "playing tricks" again on them as he and the BJP asserted that the new agriculture laws over which protests by farmers raged in the NCR will provide new options to sell for more and also safeguards.
Modi also said that presently a new trend is being seen in the country where protests are based on creating doubts through misinformation while union ministers urged farmers not to have any misconceptions about the three agriculture reform legislations.
Decades of deceit are making farmers apprehensive and they are seeing the new move in the same manner but now there is no deceit. Work is being done with intentions as pure as Ganga jal, he said reaching out to the farming community.
What we are doing now is not with chhal'(deceit) but (our work is) like pavitra Ganga jal' (holy Ganges water), Modi said addressing a public meeting in his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi, a temple town on the banks of Ganges river.
Modi's attack on the opposition parties came even as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged that the new laws are meant for prime minister's two-three friends, and are aimed at stealing from the farmers.
The Congress also launched a social media campaign to muster support for the protestors saying when farmers raise their voice, it resonates across the country. The protests in the National Capital Region(NCR) in wintry weather entered the fifth day on Monday.
Leaders of the opposition DMK-led alliance in Tamil Nadu demanded that the prime minister 'respect' the democratic struggle of the farmers, negotiate with them and announce a repeal of all three agricultural laws. The Left parties called upon their state units to coordinate and organise protests in support of the thousands of protesting farmers.
Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to the people of Delhi to extend all possible help to the protesting farmers at the Singhu and Tikri border points of the national capital and urged the Centre to hold talks with them at the earliest.
As leaders of the protesting farmers, who are mainly from Punjab, declared they have come to the national capital for a "decisive battle" and urged Modi to listen to their "mann ki baat", the prime minister stoutly defended the farm laws which deregulate the sale of crops. However, farmer bodies have raised apprehensions that the minimum support price (MSP) system is being dismantled.
"The farmers are being deceived on these historic agriculture reform laws by the same people who have misled them for decades," he said, in an apparent reference to parties which are now in the opposition but not directly naming them.
He reiterated that farmers who wanted to follow the old system of trading referring to the mandis' where they can get the MSP are still free to do so. But the three laws gave them new options to sell for more, he said.
He said whenever new laws are enacted questions are bound to be asked.
But presently a new trend is being seen in the country. The protests are based on creating doubts through misinformation, Modi said.
We must remember that those doing so are the ones who had for decades deceived farmers, he claimed. The MSP used to be declared but very little procurement was done on it, he claimed.
Farmers have faced deceit on MSP, loan waiver schemes, urea and productivity for a long time in the past.
He said small farmers will now be able to take legal action even on deals struck outside the mandis, which will not only provide them fresh alternatives but also protect them from being cheated.
Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to express his solidarity with the protesting farmers and attack the prime minister.
"The Modi government has persecuted the farmer - first it brought black laws and then used lathis against them, but it forgot that when the farmer raises his voice, it resonates throughout the country. You also raise your voice against the exploitation of farmers and join the #SpeakUpForFarmers campaign," Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.
"The farmer of the country has come to Delhi in the cold, leaving his home and fields, to voice his protest against the black agriculture laws. In this battle of truth and untruth, with whom do you stand - the 'Annadata' (food-giving) farmer or the PM's capitalist friends," he said in another tweet.
The former Congress chief said wherever these farmers are protesting, the people and Congress workers should stand in their support and provide them food.
"The question is why is the farmer out on the roads, travelling thousands of kilometers and is stalling traffic. PM Modi says the three farm laws are in favour of the farmer, but if these laws are in the farmer's favour, why is he not happy and why is he protesting," asked the Congress leader.
"These laws are for Narendra Modi's two-three friends and are aimed at stealing from the farmers. That is why we all have to together stand with the strength of India - the farmer," he said.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Prime Minister Modi should announce the suspension of the three agri laws and demanded that he should himself talk to the representatives of all farmer unions.
Besides the prime minister, union ministers and BJP leaders urged farmers not to have "misconceptions" about the farm reforms which, it asserted, have nothing to do with the mechanism of MSP and that 'mandi' will continue along with the government's purchase of grains.
"New agri laws do not end APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) mandis. Mandis will continue to operate as they have been. New laws have given farmers the freedom to sell their produce anywhere. Whoever gives farmers the best price will get to buy their produce be it inside the mandis or outside," Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a series of tweets in Hindi.
Many misconceptions like the farm bills are a conspiracy to not offer farmers MSP, are being spread, he said, adding that the reality is that these legislations have nothing to do with the minimum support price. "The MSP has been in force and will remain in force."
Another senior BJP leader and Union minister Prakash Javadekar said, "Don't have misconceptions about the farm laws. Farmers of Punjab have sold more paddy in mandi than they did last year and at a higher MSP. MSP is alive and so is mandi. And government purchase is also taking place."