India Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence on the Farm Laws and defended the 3 farm laws by quoting previous Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and went as far as accusing the opposition Congress party of taking a “u-turn” on the agricultural reforms.
In the President’s Budget Session speech, Prime Minister Modi came from back foot to front foot and gave a speech full of rhetoric and defences for the 3 farm laws. Modi, for the first time since he took the Prime Minister’s seat, quoted his predecessor Manmohan Singh. In his quote, Modi emphasized that the farm laws are part of agricultural reform aimed to benefit the Indian farmers. Modi also accused the opposition of taking a “U-turn” on the agricultural reforms and said that he quoted his predecessor thinking “at least they will listen to him if not me”.
PM Modi in his speech said, “I am quoting former PM Manmohan Singh ji as the opposition may not listen to me but may listen to what Manmohan Singh ji has said. ‘There are other rigidities because of marketing regime set up in the 1930s which prevent our farmers from selling their produce where they get the highest rate of return. It is our intention to remove all those handicaps which come in the way of India realising its vast potential as one large common market,’ Manmohan Singh has said. But now there is clear U-turn of the Congress.”
He shared that the previous agricultural system was not favourably inclined towards the Indian farmers and also blamed the Opposition parties for maintaining silence on farmer issues. Modi shared a figure saying how the number of farmers with small landholdings has increased from 51% in 1971 to 86% today. He added, “There are 86 percent farmers having less than two hectares of land today. This means there are 12 crore such farmers. Doesn’t the nation have any responsibility towards these farmers?”
MSP System Will Always Remain
Modi also highlighted the fact that the minimum support price (MSP) system is here to stay. The MSP is the minimum assured price at which the Centre buys produce like wheat, rice from the farmers. Since the farmer’s protest, it has been alleged that the government will eventually disregard the MSP system in the long run. This has led to unrest among the farm unions across the country. To squash all those worries, Modi reiterated MSP was, is, and will always be (“MSP tha, hai, aur rahega”).
Congress should be “proud” of the Farm Laws
The Prime Minister also added how the opposition should be “proud” since the ruling party is now carrying forward the vision which the former Indian Prime Minister had. PM Modi said, “Manmohan Singh Ji had made his intentions clear to give farmers the freedom to sell their produce, and have just one market. And we are doing it now. You all should be proud. ‘See, what Manmohan Singh Ji had said, Modi is having to do now. (woh Modi ji ko karna pad raha hai).”
Modi- “New Andolan Jeevi ‘Jamaat’ In India”
Modi also labeled the agitated farmers of India as ‘Andolan Jeevi’. In his speech, the Prime Minister said how the agitated farmers cannot live without protest. PM Modi said, “We know of Shram jeevi, Buddhi jeevi, but I am observing that a new jamaat has recently taken birth in India known as Andolan jeevi.” He also added how some fellow Rajya Sabha members would agree to his observation since for years every Indian state government has had to deal with its share of ‘Andolan Jeevi’.
Be careful of new FDI (Foreign Destructive Ideology)
The speech also saw Modi smartly hinting at the ‘toolkit’ revelation and said that while Foreign Direct Investment is always welcome and appreciated, India should be careful of one other FDI which stands for ‘Foreign Destructive Ideology’. Although he did not go into the specifics as to which ideologies he labeled as the Foreign Destructive Ideology, it should be interesting to see how matters transpire in this story.
Prime Minister Modi’s speech comes at a time when the protest by farmers at the different borders of the Indian capital since November continues. Farm Unions across the country have been protesting against the 3 newly passed farm laws: Traders of the national capital since November 26 last year against the three newly enacted farm laws: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
As of now, the implementation of these 3 laws has been stayed by the Indian Supreme Court. The Centre has been on the receiving end of aggression from the farmer’s unions and the Opposition alike. Although the Centre after more than 10 rounds of talks with farmers assured of amendments in the Bill, the farmers want the bill to be completely repelled.