Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday that the government is open to holding talks with farmers’ groups to allay their fears about the three new farm laws, The Hindu reported.
“I appeal to all farmer organisations to come and talk to us to clear issues; I’ve already begun such meetings,” Singh told reporters. “As a farmer’s son, I want to make it clear Modi government will not do anything against farmers’ interests.”
Singh also said that the Minimum Support Price system will continue as before. He assured farmers that no one can claim ownership of farmers’ land in lieu of contract farming, PTI reported.
The BJP leader also condemned the burning of a tractor in Delhi earlier this week during protests against the laws. “Tractors are as sacred to farmers as weapons are to soldiers and burning them is like insulting our farmers,” he said. Singh said the act was committed by a political party for their own interest.
The BJP leader also accused the Opposition of creating misunderstandings among the people about the minimum support price and the mandi system. “I want to assure farmers that the MSP will stay and rather it will be continuously increased in the coming years, in any case, it will not be abolished,” he said. The defence minister claimed that the MSP increased 23 times during the six-year tenure of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government.
Singh said the new law will provide farmers more options to sell their produce, and they will not have to pay taxes like some instances in the past.
There have been widespread protests throughout the country this week against the farm laws. Opposition parties led by the Congress have joined in these protests and sought a repeal of the farm laws. Earlier this week, Congress President Sonia Gandhi asked state governments ruled by her party to pass legislation to override the Centre’s farm laws.
The Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra on September 30 withdrew its August order to implement new farm laws in the state, after facing pressure from its allies, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.
The BJP’s ally Shiromani Akali Dal walked out of the alliance last month citing its opposition to the farm laws. Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal also asked all Opposition parties to jointly fight for the farmers’ cause. On Friday, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal was arrested during a protest against the farming laws.
The three ordinances – Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Ordinance 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Assurance and Farm Service Ordinance 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 – passed on June 5, were converted into law by the Parliament in the third week on September, amid vehement protests from the Opposition.