Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday accused the Opposition of spreading rumours and creating doubts in the minds of farmers about the benefits of the new agriculture laws that were passed in September, which have become the centre of protests ever since, ANI reported.
At a public event in Varanasi, the prime minister, while inaugurating a six-lane widening project, alleged that the Opposition had a penchant for questioning every policy of the government, and spreading falsehood about its intentions.
“There’s new trend now, earlier decisions of the government were opposed, now rumours have become basis for opposition,” he said. “Propaganda is spread. Although [the] decision will be right – they say, ‘who knows what would happen in the future? Who knows the consequences’.”
Modi said the same “game is being played” with farm laws. “This is all intentional,” he added.
The reforms have given farmers new options and and “legal protection”, Modi told his supporters in his home constituency, without elaborating on what these safeguards are. He said the new legislations would give farmers better access to markets – both national and international.
“And farmers should get full profit from international markets,” he added. “India’s farm produce is famous across the world. This big market and more money, shouldn’t they [the farmers] have this in reach?”
Over the past few days, farmers, mainly from Punjab, have arrived at the borders of Delhi, hoping to be able to meet central government leaders and persuade them to roll back the three agriculture laws passed in September. Their agitation has been met with violent action from police, who have attempted to turn them back by using water cannons and tear gas.
The farmers want the laws abolished as they say it could cause the government to stop buying grain at guaranteed prices and result in their being exploited by corporations that would buy their crops at cheap prices. But the government disagrees. It says the laws are needed to reform agriculture by giving farmers the freedom to market their produce and boosting production through private investment.
The prime minister on Monday, once again denied claims that the legislations would reduce farmers’ earnings and give more power to corporations. “I know that decades of falsehood does put apprehensions in the minds of farmers... I want to say this from the bank of Mother Ganga – we are not working with the intention of deceiving,” Modi said. “Our intentions are as holy as the water of river Ganga.”
He also spoke about the benefits of the new the new system that allows farmers to sell outside mandis notified by the Agricultural Produce Market Committee, and also do business with private sector companies, according to NDTV. “Earlier, any transactions outside a mandi were considered illegal,” he said. “This was against small farmers who could not even reach mandis. Now even the smallest of farmers can legally operate outside mandis.”
Modi said the farmers are being empowered through this new system, and are being given options to access a bigger market. “Shouldn’t a farmer get freedom to sell his produce directly to those who give them better prices and facilities?” he asked.
At the same time, Modi said, that the new open market system will not mean the end of the traditional mandi system or the minimum support prices fixed by the government. “If someone thinks that the earlier system is better, how is this law stopping anyone, bhai?” he asked. “The new farm law doesn’t stop anyone who wishes to sell produce according to old system.”
The prime minister said he was certain that the country would see the benefits of the new legislations in the coming days.
‘Infrastructure in Uttar Pradesh improved under Adityanath’
In his speech, Modi also praised the Uttar Pradesh government and claimed that infrastructure development in the state has improved since Adityanath became chief minister.
“What was the status of infrastructure in Uttar Pradesh before 2017 is known to all,” he said, according to the Hindustan Times. “But after Yogi ji [Adityanath] became chief minister, the speed of infrastructure development increased. Today UP is known as Express Pradesh.”
The prime minister added that the 12 airports are currently under construction in the state.
On the widened Handia (Prayagraj)-Rajatalab (Varanasi) section of National Highway 19, which he inaugurated earlier in the day, Modi, said the new road will benefit the people of Prayagraj along with the people of Kashi. “Varanasi is getting improved infrastructure on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti and Dev Deepawali,” he said, adding that the new road will also be beneficial during the Kumbh mela.