A month into the farmers’ uprisings at the Delhi’s borders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi effectively brought out a line on Friday re-affirming his approval of the three laws and accusing the political opponents said was their overture to “mislead” farmers.
His comments mark his most strong public contention against the demand that the laws be abolished. By crafting it as an occasion attended by virtually the whole Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister demonstrated his perseverance to utilise his political capital to nudge these laws.
Railing against the Opposition for what he called its “dogali” (doublespeak) policy over the new farm laws, PM Modi said the government is willing to keep conversations in the concern of farmers. Still, it will be on “issues, logic and facts”.
“…I humbly say to even those people who are opposing us fiercely, I say with humility, our government is ready to talk to them in the interest of farmers, but the talks will be on issues, logic and facts,” Modi said after disclosing the organised Rs 18,000-crore tranche to over nine crore farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme.
TMC leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee – Assembly elections in the state are scheduled next year – found specific remark for whine in his speech. He inquired why those antagonistic farm laws do not talk about the concern of farmers in West Bengal, a state that has not carried out the PM-KISAN.
“Today, the political parties, which have been voted out by the people, are doing events and event management so that someone can take a selfie, get photos printed, and appear on TV so that their politics can continue. These have been exposed in front of the country. Why do they not speak of interests of farmers of West Bengal? They are engaged here to harass the citizens of Delhi and are ruining the country’s economy. That too in the name of farmers,” Modi said.
Over 23 lakh farmers of West Bengal, he said, pertained to online to withstand benefit of this system, but the state government halted the verification procedure.
Citing the Opposition charge that APMC man would be undermined with the execution of the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, he said, “You must have heard, they are talking about mandis and APMCs. Kerala has no APMC, no mandi… they organise programmes to seek attention, so they should start APMCs in Kerala by organising agitations there. You have time to mislead the farmers of Punjab, but if this system is good, then why is it not there in Kerala?
“Why do you adopt a dogali (doublespeak) policy? What kind of politics are they doing in which there is no logic, no facts? Make false accusations and spread rumours to scare our farmers. Sometimes, naive farmers get misled by you,” the Prime Minister said.
“These people are not willing to accept any scale and parameters of democracy. They only see their benefits, their selfishness. Those who are playing the game by taking their flags in the name of farmers, will now have to listen to the truth… they cannot escape. They have the right to do politics in democracy. Do not play with the lives of innocent farmers, do not play with their future and do not mislead them,” he said.
Advising farmers “not to be misled” and “not accept the lies of anyone”, he pleaded them to believe only based on “logic and facts”. He summarised the proposals inaugurated by his government for the interest of farmers.
At the programme, organised on the event of the birth anniversary of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Modi also interacted with six farmers from six states and solicited them to share their happenings of contract farming, government policies and other matters.
When Gagan Pering, a farmer from Lower Dibang Valley district in Arunachal Pradesh, said he had constructed a farmer produced organisation for the output of ginger and had concurred with a private corporation, the Prime Minister inquired of him, “Does the company that buy ginger from you, procure only ginger or it takes away your land?” reacting to this, Pering said, “The agreement is only for purchase of produce, not for land. The land is owned by us, and it will remain ours.”
Modi told him: “You are sitting in a remote area of Arunachal Pradesh and you have trust that your land is safe, but some people are spreading misconceptions that if you enter into an agreement of your produce, then you will lose your land too.” This was a citation to Opposition statements against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.
Indeed, the PM’s statement Friday stances in unlikeness to the Centre’s climbdown on the land accession ordinance in 2015 in the countenance of milder revolts.
The warning that the Government will not conform on the nullification demand appears against the background of incessant negotiations with trade unions on draft rules under the four labour codes lately given rise by the government.
Just as he performed with the CAA, the Prime Minister ridiculed the Opposition over its electoral defeat accusing it of inciting the protests to nudge their political plan. This playbook that strives to delegitimise uprisings and associate them a plan isn’t different for this Government.