New Delhi, Feb 08 (PTI):
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday slammed those abusing agitating Sikh farmers, saying it will not do the country any good as he went on to appeal to the protesting farmers to call off their over two-month-long stir, assuring them of continuing with the purchase of crops at an administered price or MSP.
In the same vein, he also hit out at deleterious influences from abroad, referring to them as ‘foreign destructive ideology’, as well as a new “breed” of agitators — ‘Andolan-jivi’ — in the country who cannot live without a tumult.
He dug out old statements such as one by his predecessor Manmohan Singh supporting farm reforms to allow farmers to sell their produce where they get the best price, saying the opposition parties had done a ‘U-turn’ on their own words and they have not been able to give out reasons for the continuation of the farmers’ agitation. “Give the agriculture reforms a chance,” he said while replying to a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on a motion thanking the President for his address to Parliament at the start of the current Budget session.
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 ‘Foreign Direct Investment or FDI’ to warn against deleterious influences from abroad. m“I see that a new FDI has come to the fore. We have to protect the nation from this new FDI. We need Foreign Direct Investment but the new FDI is ‘Foreign Destructive Ideology’, we have to protect ourselves from it,” he said. He also hit out at some of the protestors, saying a new crop of agitators has emerged in India who cannot live without agitation and the country should be beware of them. “There is a new crop of ‘Andolan-jivi’. They live for protests. They look for ways to start a new movement. The country needs to be aware of these Andolan-jivi,” he said. The Prime Minister promised to continue with MSP-based procurement at the ‘mandis’ as well as subsidised ration supply through the public distribution system (PDS) to the poor. He indicated the government was open to amending the laws. “We are ready to remove shortcomings,” he emphasised.
“I assure you that mandis will be modernised,” he said. “MSP was there (in past). MSP is there (now). MSP will remain in the future.”
He also cited former agriculture minister and Maratha leader Sharad Pawar’s support for agriculture reforms to buttress his point on the U-turn by the opposition. “Those taking a U-turn will perhaps agree with him (Singh)… Whether they were able to do it or not, but everyone has advocated that it should be done,” he said.
Attacking TMC — which his party BJP is challenging in the forthcoming assembly elections in West Bengal, Modi said he was left wondering if party MP Derek O’Brien using phrases such as ‘freedom of speech’ and ‘intimidation’ were for the country or his state.
“He (Derek) sees all this (in West Bengal) 24 hours, so he might have thought that is how it is in the rest of the country too,” he remarked.
New Delhi, Feb 08 (PTI):