New Delhi, Sep 25 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday accused the Opposition of 'misleading' farmers and 'using their shoulders to fire' at his government over the farm bills for selfish political interests, and asserted that for the first time in decades, the Centre has framed laws that will benefit farmers and workers.
Addressing BJP leaders and workers on the 104th birth anniversary of the party's ideologue Deendayal Upadhyay, Modi launched a powerful defence of farm as well as labour bills, saying the reforms brought in the agriculture sector will benefit the small and marginal farmers the most as 85 out of 100 farmers fall in this category.
The three farm bills --the Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020-- and the labour bills were passed by Parliament during the recent monsoon session.
Amid vehement protests by the Congress and other opposition parties against these bills, Modi hit out at them, saying many governments came to power in states and at the Centre over the decades in the name of farmers and workers, 'but what did they get—nothing; just a web of promises that neither the farmers understood nor the workers.' 'The farmers were entwined in laws that prevented them from selling their produce at prices that they wanted; consequently, even though the produce went up their income did not go up,' he said, adding those who always 'lied' to farmers are now 'shooting from their shoulders' and misleading them.
Asserting that the small and marginal farmers are 'happiest today', the Prime Minister said, 'for the first time, they have got an alternative to bargain for the price of their produce. The tradition earlier was to sell in 'mandis'. If he thinks he will benefit by selling there, he will sell there. If he thinks the benefit is more outside, he will sell outside.' The Opposition, farmers and many farmer organisations have been protesting against the proposed reforms in the agriculture sector by the Modi government, dubbing these measures as 'anti-farmers'.
With Punjab witnessing most protests from a section of farmers, regional party Shiromani Akali Dal, a BJP ally, has also come out against these bills and its lone member in the Union Cabinet, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, has quit her post in an expression of solidarity with farmers.
During his address, Modi gave a call to BJP members to fan out across the villages to bust the propaganda of its rivals by explaining the importance of the agriculture reforms in simple language to farmers and how they will make their future brighter.
Our ground connection will bust the propaganda being spread in the virtual world, he asserted, stating that saving farmers from such 'rumours' explaining them the importance and benefits of the agriculture reforms is the duty of all party workers.
Farmers were so far unable to sell their produce as they wished for decades and, consequently, their income did not grow despite the rise in farm productivity, he said, adding that workers faced the same situation.
'The BJP-led NDA government has constantly tried to change this situation. Minimum support price for crops was fixed at 1.5 times of the input cost. A record hike was effected in the MSP and the government procurement also hit a record high. Under the Kisan Samman Sidhi, more than Rs one lakh crore has been transferred to bank accounts of over one crore farmers,' he said.
Speaking of the working class, he said his government has brought labour codes to bring workers out of the complex web of dozens of laws.
Modi said over 50 crore workers employed in organised and unorganised sectors will benefit from these reforms, with fixed income and other, including health benefits.
So far only 30 percent of workers had the coverage of minimum wage guarantee, and it will now expand to all workers in the unorganised sector, he said.
Woman workers have been empowered and given equality by these proposed laws, as they did not get equal rights earlier, he said.
The views of Upadhyay, who propounded the BJP's founding ideologies of integral humanism and 'antyodaya' (uplifting the last man in queue), are reflected in his government's welfare works, he said.
In his speech, the prime minister also lauded his party's workers for their 'flexibility and adaptability', and helping people extensively during the COVID-19 pandemic and said they have found a place in the poor's heart with their welfare works.
'Our remarks, ideas and conduct should be in line with the expectation and aspiration of 21st century India,' he said, and asked party workers to follow coronavirus guidelines and encourage others to do so as well.
In his address, Modi also said his government has been very clear that it should not excessively interfere in the lives of those who do not need the government much, as he noted the faceless appeal system for the taxpayers has come into effect on the day of Upadhyay's birth anniversary.
Asserting that 'nation-first' is the BJP's mantra, he noted as to how promises made by the party have been fulfilled and referred to decisions like scrapping Article 370, which had given Jammu and Kashmir special rights, and the beginning of the Ram temple construction in Ayodhya.
He also asked BJP cadres to promote local products and spread awareness about the National education Policy. PTI KR/ASK PYK PYK