New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that for the first time in decades, the Union government has framed laws that benefit farmers, workers, women and other marginalised sections.
In the backdrop of protests from a section of farmers and the Opposition parties’ criticism of the recently passed farm bills, PM Modi lashed out at the Opposition for “misleading” the farmers.
“Many governments were formed after promising betterment 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.
Addressing party workers on the 104th birth anniversary of Hindutva ideologue and leader of Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), the BJP’s forerunner Deendayal Upadhyay, the PM said that over the years the farmers’ burden of loans kept increasing .
“The NDA government made relentless efforts to change this. We have taken well thought-out decisions that are not for any political benefit (to us) but for the empowerment and benefit of the farmers. Earlier we decided to give MSP, which was one and a half times the cost of production and created history,” he said.
After the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 were passed in Parliament nearly a week ago, the Opposition parties criticised the government for drafting policies that favour the big companies. The bills would allow farmers to sell produce outside agricultural produce market committees (APMCs), allow contract farming agreements, and create farm-to-fork supply chains. Opposition parties have alleged that the new laws will limit APMC markets to their physical boundaries while allowing corporate buyers to land up at farms.
The PM slammed these accusations, called them “misleading” and said the government has made efforts to ensure that the farmers are directly provided the benefits via direct transfer. “We have also ensured that Kisan credit card (KCC) should made available not only to those with 2 hectares of land, but even small and marginal farmers and those engaged in fisheries or animal rearing. During UPA’s time, Rs 20 lakh core was given through the KCC to farmers, this was increased to 35 lakh crore during the NDA rule,” he said.
He said the new legislation will allow farmers to get the correct price for their produce. “The small and marginal farmers are the ones who will benefit the most from the changes that have been implemented in the farm and agriculture sector. Eighty-five out of 100 of them are from the small and marginal sections. For the first time they have an alternative option to sell their produce,” the PM said.
He urged BJP workers to talk about the provisions of these laws in simple language and tell the farmers across the country what the laws are all about.
Referring to the new labour codes, the PM said the laws have been simplified and these will ensure that 50 crore labourers will get minimum wages whether are there in the formal sector or the informal sector.
“Only 30% of the workers till now were getting minimum wage; now every industry from the hotel industry to transport will be brought under the ambit of the laws. Concerns of contract labour have also been addressed, they will be treated as regular workers and paid accordingly and will get the benefits of other policies as well. Those who travel from one state to another for work, their health care and other needs will also be taken care of,” the PM said.
The Prime Minister said the new laws will impact women who make up for 50% of the workforce. Referring to the benefits of caste-based reservation and the 10% reservation that has been extended to the economically backward sections, he said a level playing field has been created for all.
“Our ideology and a political mantra are clear. Our mantra is nation first,” he said, and referred to the accomplishments such as the abrogation of Article 370 application and the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya that were achieved after “decades of struggle”.
The PM also praised the efforts of the BJP workers in fighting the challenge posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and paid tribute to those who lost their lives while serving others.