Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday reiterated the Centre’s stand that Opposition parties had earlier supported the reforms brought under the new farm laws. He was speaking in the Rajya Sabha, while replying to the Motion of Thanks to the president’s address in Budget session of the Parliament.
“All governments have stood for agricultural reforms,” the prime minister said, according to ANI. “Whether they were able to do it or not, but everyone has advocated that it should be done.” He also quoted former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his earlier comment that farmers were not able to get desirable returns due to marketing regime set up in 1930s.
Comparing the new farm laws to the Green Revolution, Modi pointed out how then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri still went on to implement the reforms. “Thousands of protests were held then, but Lal Bahadur Shastri moved forward and today we have surplus production,” Modi said.
The prime minister asserted once again that the Minimum Support Price regime will not be done be done away with and the new laws will only improve the state of mandis or wholesale markets. “MSP was there, MSP is there, MSP will remain in the future,” Modi said. “Affordable ration for the poor will continue and mandis will be modernised.” He added that people needed to give the agriculture reforms a chance.
‘Foreign Destructive Ideology’
The prime minister also mocked a section of protestors calling them “andolan jivi”, or those who live on protests, ANI reported. “They can be spotted wherever there is a protest, be it agitation by lawyers, students, or labourers,” Modi said. “They cannot live without andolan (protests)...we have to identify them and protect nation from them.”
Without mentioning international personalities such as climate change activist Greta Thunberg, pop singer Rihanna or others who have criticised the government’s handling of the farmers’ protest, the prime minister coined a new meaning for the acronym FDI.
“The nation is making progress and we are talking about FDI [Foreign Direct Investment], but I see that a new FDI has come to the fore,” he said. “This has to be discouraged. It is called Foreign Destructive Ideology.”
On Punjab and Sikhs
The prime minister spoke at length on the contribution of Sikhs and Punjab towards the nation, in an apparent effort to send a signal to the state, which has been at the forefront of the farmers’ agitation.
“This country is proud of every Sikh...What have they not done for this country?” the prime minister said. “We can never give them enough respect. Language used by some people for them and attempts to mislead them will never benefit nation.”
He then went on to urge farmer leaders to let the elderly people to go home. “Protesting is your right but want to request that old farmers are sitting, ask them to go home,” he said.
‘Mother of democracy’
Hailing the country as “mother of democracy”, Modi that the youth of the country must realise the value of this aspect. “Our democracy is not a western institution,” the prime minister stated. “It’s a human institution. India’s history is filled with examples of democratic institutions.”
Suggesting that the country’s sense of nationalism was under threat, Modi urged the people of the country to be inspired by the values of the motto of “Satyam Shivam Sundaram”.