- "Agricultural reforms have opened new possibilities for farmer": PM
- These reforms have given them new rights and opportunities, he said
- Thousands of farmers have been camping near Delhi for four days now
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today spoke of the Centre's new farm laws and the advantages they brought, as the country witnessed an unprecedented protest by farmers for the last four days. Demanding that the laws be scrapped, thousands of farmers from several states have been camping in and around Delhi, turning down the government's request to move their protest to a designated spot. PM Modi's remarks drew condemnation from the Congress, which questioned how it would be possible to repeal the farm laws when he is backing them.
"The agricultural reforms in the past few days have also now opened new doors of possibilities for our farmers," PM Modi said in his monthly radio address Mann ki Baat. "The demands that have been made by farmers for years, that every political party, at some point or the other, made the promise to fulfill, those demands have been met," PM Modi said.
"After a lot of deliberation, the Parliament of India gave a legal form to the agricultural reforms. These reforms have not only served to unshackle our farmers but also given them new rights and opportunities," he said, adding that "In just a short span of time, these new rights have begun to address the sufferings of our farmers".
As an example, he spoke of a farmer in Maharashtra's Dhule who did not paid for his corn crop for four months.
"Buy the crop from the farmer, keep the payment pending for months on end -- probably this was the long standing tradition that the buyers of corn were following... In this situation, the new farm laws that were passed in September came to his aid. Under this law, it was decided that all dues of the farmers should be cleared within three days of procurement, failing which, the farmer can lodge a complaint," he said.
The protesting farmers made it clear that they were not happy. Instead of repealing of three "black laws", the government is doing its best to move the debate to where the farmers should camp, the farmers' organisation said in a press release. "It is also seen that the force deployment all over the city is creating an atmosphere of terror and apprehension amongst the protesting farmers and even the people of Delhi," the statement read.
"If the head of the nation backs the three black laws, then how is it possible that farmers' issues are raised on Mann Ki Baat. When the farmers are at roads, power to run the country has been given to a few capitalists," the Congress said.
After battling water cannons, tear gas and police barricades for three days, thousands of farmers several states, including Punjab and Haryana, had reached the doors of Delhi on Friday.
Those who managed to enter the city are camping at a ground in north Delhi. Thousands of others remained at border points, undecided whether to go to the demonstration site identified by police.
On Saturday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah assured the protesters that the government was ready to deliberate on "every problem and demand" of the farmers.
The Centre, he said, will hold talks with the farmers' unions on December 3 and if they want to hold discussions before that, they will have to shift their protest at a government-designated venue.
The farmers, however, have responded that the government should come forward with an "open heart" and not with a "condition".