PM Modi defends farm laws, offers talks based on 'facts and logic'

Topics farmers | Narendra Modi | Farm Bills

PM Narendra Modi was speaking at a virtual event. Credits: ANI
Opposition parties are “pushing a political agenda” by spreading lies about laws that will benefit farmers, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday as he offered talks "based on facts and logic".

Modi was speaking at a virtual event transferring over Rs 18,000 crore to more than 90 million farmers when he forcefully defended three agricultural laws that his government says give farmers the freedom to sell their produce. The reforms have sparked protests with tens of thousands of farmers camping out at Delhi’s borders for weeks demanding the government withdraw the laws they fear will eventually dismantle regulated markets and stop the government buying wheat and rice at guaranteed prices.

"My dear farmers, please hear me clearly, you can sell your produce where you get the correct price. If you want to sell it at minimum support price, please do. You want to sell it to mandi, other states, to industries please do. No mandi will be closed; MSP will stay. Do not listen to the rumours," he said, referring to agricultural markets and the government's support price for farmers.

“Some parties are pushing a political agenda by opposing the new farm laws. Some people are spreading myths and lies that land will be taken away if farmers enter into contract farming,” he said, referring to Opposition parties allegation that farmers won't benefit from the three laws. "But despite all this, I am saying this with humility that we are ready to discuss the issue of farmers, with those who are against us too but the discussion has to be based on issues, facts and logic.” 

Modi accused West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee government of not accepting central funds for farmers. "I am saddened that only West Bengal government is not associated with this scheme... Many farmers from Bengal have even written to the centre. It is the same Bengal government that is opposing this benefit for the farmers, but goes to Punjab and support farm protest," Modi said about a state which will hold assembly election early next year.

The virtual event was part of the government's outreach programme after its talks with farmer unions hit a dead end. The government on Thursday sent a letter to 40 representatives of farmer unions, asking them to decide the time and date for the next round of talks, and also “give details of other issues on which you want to negotiate”. 

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