Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday appealed to agitating farmers to give the new farm laws a chance.
“If there is any drawback in the laws, it will be corrected. If there is a loose end, it will be tightened. Our doors are open for suggestions,” the PM said. Replying to a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on a motion thanking the President for his address to Parliament at the start of the Budget session, Modi asserted that the system of minimum support price (MSP) for crops would continue. “The MSP was there, is there and is going to be there in future,” Modi said, adding that mandis would be modernised and there was also no question of abolition of distribution of ration through the PDS. Modi appealed to the farmers protesting on the outskirts of Delhi to return home. “It does not feel right… there are old people too in the gathering.”
He also urged the MPs to request the agitating farmers to leave. “If the laws produce an adverse impact, pass the blame to me. If the laws work, take all the credit,” the PM told the Opposition, seeking its cooperation.
Modi said the idea of a “one large common market” for agricultural produce was also envisaged by former PM Manmohan Singh, “who had said the existing marketing regime prevented farmers from getting the highest rate of return”.
“It is our endeavour to remove all those handicaps that are in the way of India realising its vast potential as one large common market,” Modi said, quoting Manmohan Singh.
In an apparent reference to tweets by pop star Rihanna and Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg favouring the agitating farmers, Modi played on the term FDI to warn against damaging influences from abroad.
“We have to protect the nation from this new FDI —- foreign destructive ideology,” he said.
He also hit out at “a new crop of agitators”. “There is a new crop of ‘andolan-jivi’. They look for ways to start a new movement. The country needs to be wary of these andolan-jivi,” he said.