Addressing a farmers’ conference in Raisen district in Madhya Pradesh with 25,000 farmers of the state in attendance virtually and physically, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to farmer organizations across the country agitating against the new farm laws and appealed to them to see the benefits of the reforms. Cutting through a litany of lies, falsehoods and untruths being parleyed by vested interests, the Prime Minister quoted facts and figures in great detail to counter the negative propaganda regarding the farm laws and appealed to the farmers to realize who truly stands for their interests.
The event, with the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan in attendance, has been the focus of significant attention since yesterday, when Mr. Chauhan’s office put out a statement about the PM addressing the conference.
PM Modi Highlights His Government’s Pro Farmer Standing
Amid chants of “Modi ji aage badho, hum tumhare saath ho”, “Narendra Modi Zindabad” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai”, Mr. Modi highlighted that 35 lakh farmers received ₹1,600 crore to compensate for the hailstorm related damages faced by farmers “with no middlemen in between”. Noting that several farmers received Kisan Credit Card and the change in rules to facilitate its access, Mr. Modi highlighted the ease with which farmers can now access them to underscore the farmer friendly nature of his government.
Talking about cold storage and warehousing, Mr. Modi stressed upon its need, saying losses for the farmer is a loss to the nation, and highlighted that ₹1 lakh crore worth of fruits and vegetables get destroyed each year. With his government’s prioritization on developing this infrastructure network on a massive scale, the PM also appealed to trader and business communities to come forward into this space along with food processing avenues to benefit the farmers and partner in their progress.
Tackling the Political Economy of Reforms
“India’s farmer cannot live in this dire state anymore,” Mr. Modi clearly spoke and said that time cannot wait for India to adjust to the fast-changing world paradigm. In the absence of facilities and modern techniques, it is criminal that the farmers remain helpless, and these things should have happened 25-30 years ago. The amendments brought in by his government address the demands that have bene under discuss for years now with little beneficial action to show for itself.
PM Modi also took vested interests head-on including political parties and few farmer organizations who had been talking about these reforms all this while and promised them in their manifestos and instead kept stalling this. “Farmers are not their priority, and they kept the farmers in perpetual wait,” Mr. Modi highlighted to the farmer audience. He also pointed out that the reforms put forth by the government were no different from what these and many experts had pointed out. ‘The real pain for them lies in the fact that Modi has done these. How can we let Modi take credit for it? I pray to these people with folded hands – please keep the credit to yourself. I do not seek this credit. All I want is ease of lives for farmers, modernization in agriculture. Please stop misleading the farmers,” Mr. Modi warned these vested interests.
Mr. Modi also highlighted the double standards being put forth by the political parties with respect to the problems with the laws, and highlighted their hypocrisy. “Those who have no political standing today want to create the fear of farmers losing the land they stand on to hold on to their shrinking political relevance,” Mr. Modi spoke clearly to the audience.
Presenting Benefits Already Arising in a Short Time
“Those who talk about farmers today are shedding crocodile tears, but are actually heartless. Its biggest proof is Swaminathan Commission report. They sat on the Commission’s suggestions for eight years despite protests from farmers, and showed little interest in resolving farmer demands. They did not want to spend much on agriculture and farmers. For them, farmers are not the pride of the nation; they are just a tool to be exploited to further their own political interests,” Mr. Modi emphatically stated these facts to clarify the difference his government has brought in. It is pertinent to point out that the Modi government has indeed implemented the Commission’s report.
Mr. Modi also highlighted the hypocrisy on farmer loan waiver in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in 2018. “How many farmers got a loan waiver? What excuses were given after coming to power? MP’s farmers know this better than me. Lakhs of farmers in Rajasthan still await the farm loan waiver. When I see these people talk of farmer interests, I am astonished – what kind of people are these? Can anyone stoop so low in politics, that too in the name of farmers? How much longer will you cheat farmers?” Mr. Modi expressed his dismay on the subject. “Small farmers who has no access to formal credit is never in their mindspace. All our experience to date shows us that the actual waiver is not the same as the promise they make. The actual waiver amount is barely anything; all that the farmers got was bank notices and arrest warrants. Only their own family and friends benefited from this. My friends in the media should check this up, they will get to know this immediately,” Mr. Modi pointed out.
Them Vs Us – PM Sets the Record Straight
“The nation is watching these people who play vote bank politics. The country can also see the purity of Ganga and Narmada in our intentions in contrast. They promised ₹50,000 crore in 10 years. In contrast, PM-KISAN Samman Nidhi gives ₹75,000 crore each year, i.e. ₹7.5 lakh crore is transferred directly into farmers’ accounts in ten years’ time!” PM Modi pointed out.
Also highlighting the perennial urea shortage and black marketing that the previous regimes allowed scot-free, Mr. Modi called out the anti-farmer stand of the past governments who were responsible for this mess, and asked them their locus standi on doing politics in the name of farmers. “If you were so sensitive to farmers’ interests, there would be no urea shortage. What has been the difference that we have made? We worked with honesty to address this challenge by cracking down on corruption and black marketing to ensure that the urea reaches the field.”
“We undertook 100 per cent neem coating of urea. We are re-starting shut down urea manufacturing plants with technology upgradation,” Mr. Modi highlighted. ₹50-60,000 crore is being spent on this, creating jobs for lakhs and make India urea self-sufficient on urea while reducing urea import dependency. “No one stopped or objected to their functioning, but there was no intention or policy. There was also no intention to help the farmers,” Mr. Modi pointed out, noting that the opposition only wants to profiteer. “If they were that interested, 100 irrigation projects would not be hanging fire for decades. Dams under construction for 25 years, absence of canals and canal-interlinkage and wasting money and time – that is all that was ensured. Our government is working in mission mode to complete these irrigation projects,” Mr. Modi highlighted.
To reduce input cost and improving productivity among others, solar pumps at subsidized prices under PM KUSUM and making the annadata as energy provider is being undertaken by the government. Ancillary services like honey, fisheries and other such activities were highlighted by the PM. “1.76 lakh MT of honey is being produced today, and exports have doubled compared to the import of honey,” PM Modi pointed out. The Blue Revolution scheme of the Modi government was also highlighted, with the ₹20,000 crore PM Matsya Sampada Yojana ensuring fishery exports cross ₹1 lakh crore in the next four years’ time was also pointed out by the Prime Minister.
Addressing the Falsehoods Being Spread About the Farm Laws
“If I start counting all the steps we have undertaken, we will fall short of time. However, I have highlighted these so that you can understand our intentions and see our track record which speaks for itself. And this is why I can assure you that there is no scope for trust deficit or lies in the name,” PM Modi took on the Opposition again.
“If we wanted to remove the MSP, why would we implement the Swaminathan commission report’s recommendation? Moreover, it is our government that announces MSP before sowing starts, which helps the farmer know what he or she will receive,” PM Modi pointed out. “These laws have been in place for six months now; even then we have announced the MSP laws; it was done even during the ongoing COVID crisis. MSP based purchases and sales are still going on in the very same mandis that we are being accused of closing down. Can anyone trust this after seeing all this? There can be no bigger falsehood or conspiracy, and I want to assure every farmer that MSP regime shall be continued in the same way as has been going on,” PM Modi reached out to the farmers directly.
Highlighting the differences in the sharp increase in MSP brought across various crops by the Modi government, the PM said that it was proof that the MSP is always ready to increase MSP whenever necessary. He also emphasized that the government is keen on maximizing procurement of the produce by highlighting that under his government, the grain procurement was doubled, oilseeds procurement grew nearly fifteen times. Moreover, on the issue of pulses, Mr Modi highlighted how pulses farmers were destroyed by the opposition during their rule while imports skyrocketed due to acute shortage. Neither was MSP attractive, nor was the procurement significant. As against a 1.5 lakh MT of pulses procured at MSP by the previous government, the Modi government purchased 112 lakh MT of pulses was procured at MSP. In all, as against their ₹650 crore, the Modi government has paid farmers ₹50,000 crore, benefiting everyone including lowering of prices of pulses for poor consumers while giving farmers assured prices.
APMCs, Contracts and Exit Clauses -Clearing the Air
“Under the laws, we have given farmers the freedom to sell their produce anywhere and to anyone they wish to. Government does not tell anyone where to sell their soaps or scooters; however, we were doing the same to farmers for the past seven decades. The farmer should get the right to sell wherever he or she wants to. Does the farmer not deserve the right to make that decision?” Mr. Modi asked the question aloud, clearing the air on the status of the APMCs. He assured the farmers that APMCs were not being shut down, and quoted examples of farmers organizing themselves and benefiting from higher prices, and reiterated that farmers should not be kept tied to mandis. “This is our repentance for the crime of keeping the farmer tied to the mandis for the past seven decades. Not one mandi has shut down; even then the lie is being spread. We have in fact spent over ₹500 crore to modernize these centres.”
Also highlighting the fact that contract farming and farming agreements has been in place for years now, Mr. Modi talked about a news item dated 8 march 2019 wherein Congress was celebrating a ₹800 crore deal between the government and a private company regarding contract on farming, thus taking the wind of the Congress sails. “We have given legal provisions to give adequate safeguards to farmers. We will ensure the primacy of farmer interests under these agreements. The sponsor and buyer will have to fulfil their obligations. Several examples have started to emerge since then of farmers getting their dues after complaining to the SDMs after the laws came into motion,” Mr. Modi also pointed out.
“Land has nothing to do with the contract, and the laws prohibit the buyers and sponsors and investors from not sharing the benefit in case of a sudden windfall. The decision to enter a contract is left to the farmer; there is no compulsion. These laws only help to protect the farmer interests,” Mr Modi clarified on the untruths being spread about the process, and also highlighted the easy exit clauses provided for farmers.
Mr. Modi lauded the farmers for embracing the reforms wholeheartedly and not falling into the trap of the opposition. He also appealed to the protesting farmers not to fear something that cannot and will not happen. “Stay away from the jamaat of mistruths. They have only engaged in falsehoods to date, and continue to do so. Even after all of this, if anyone has any doubts, we appeal to our farmer brethren with folded hands and bowed heads to come and talk to us on any and every issue they want to talk about. Farmer interest is a priority for us,” Mr, Modi clearly stated.
He also told the audience that on 25 December 2020, i.e. the birthday of Bharat Ratna Atal Behari Vajpayee, PM Modi while distributing PM KISAN nidhi would also reach out to the farmers again and once again engage with them on this issue.