Farmers are being misled over the Centre’s new farm bills, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday (September 18), a day after the proposed legislations led to the resignation of Harsimrat Kaur Badal from the Union Cabinet, exposing a rift between Akalis and BJP.
Three farm bills – The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 – were passed by the Lok Sabha this week amid strong protests from a section of farmers and opposition parties.
Hailing the passage of the farm bills in Lok Sabha as historic, Modi said it was necessary to bring these bills to protect the farmers from middlemen.
“Farmers have been given a new independence in agriculture. They will now have more options and opportunities to sell their produce. It was necessary to bring these to protect them from middlemen. These are farmers’ shield,” he said.
However, Modi said that the people who ruled the country for decades are attempting to mislead the farmers on this issue. They are lying to farmers, he said. “Farmers are aware and can see who are standing with middlemen and opposing new opportunities for them,” he said.
The prime minister’s statement came while dedicating the Kosi rail mega bridge to the nation and inaugurating several rail projects in Bihar.
It also came at a time when the BJP was abandoned by the Shiromani Akali Dal, its oldest ally, on the farm bills issue. SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal has said the party will now review its ties with the NDA government.
The Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee has declared ‘rail roko’ agitation during September 26-26 in Punjab against the farm bills.
The main concern of the Opposition and the farmers is that these Bills will dismantle the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system, which provides a safety net to the farmers against excessive fall in prices, despite the government’s assurances that the MSP system will stay.