Noting that farmers are “annadatas” and “backbone of the economy,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday strongly disapproved of remarks such as “Naxals” or “Khalistanis” in the context of protesting farmers and said “allegations should not be made by anyone” against them.
In an exclusive interview with ANI, the minister said that the farm laws have been made in the interest of farmers and the protesting farmers should see their implementation for two years.
He said the government was “pained” by the protest by farmers.
Asked about “Naxals” or “Khalistani” remarks made in the past in the context of protesting farmers, he said such allegations should not be made.
“These allegations should not be made by anyone against farmers. We express our deepest respect towards our farmers. Our heads bow in deference and respect towards our farmers. They are our ‘annadatas’. In the time of economic recession, the farmers have borne the responsibility of taking the economy out of trouble. They are the economy’s backbone. They have taken the country out of troubled waters on several occasions,” Singh said.
He suggested that farmers who are protesting against three farm laws should engage in a logical debate on every clause with the government.
His remarks came ahead of the next round of talks between the protesting farmers and the government.
“My suggestion to the farmers is that there should be a logical debate on every clause of the farm laws. Where it will be felt that there is anything against the interests of the farmers, the government will do the needful to address their problems,” he said.
He said the government was working for the poor and marginalised sections of the society.
“Some forces have tried to create some misperceptions amongst farmers. We have also talked to several farmers. My only request to farmers is that clause-wise discussion based on logic should be done and not seek ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. We will find a resolution to the problem. I have myself seen the laws and I am aware of the problems of the farmers. The farmers should at least see the implementation of these laws for two years as an experiment. We will be ready to make necessary amendments if there is a need. If the farmers want experts to talk with the government for amendment in certain clauses, we are entirely flexible,” he said.
Singh said the government has been working to boost the income of farmers through the farm laws and the Prime Minister was concerned about the issue before the 2014 election campaign.
“The fact is that the three farm bills have been made keeping the interests of the farmers in mind. Being one of the senior-most members of the cabinet, I have had the opportunity of interacting with PM Modi on several issues, I have seen that he has expressed concern on the farmers’ issues. Even before the 2014 election campaign, he had the thought of doubling the income of farmers,” Singh said.
He said the government has repeatedly said that MSP will continue.
“How will we renege on our promises? If leaders renege on promises in a democracy then the people punish them under this system. We are striving to increase the income of farmers,” he said.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was pained about the farmers’ protest.
“There is no question of being insensitive as far as the subject of farmers is concerned. Our farmers are holding demonstrations and I am not the only one pained. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pained as well.”
He was asked why no BJP leader had visited the farmers protesting on Delhi borders.
He said the Sikh brothers have sacrificed a lot for national security and the country will not forget that.
“The Sikh brothers have always protected the culture of the country. Their contribution will always be remembered for protecting the country’s self-respect. There is no question on their integrity.”
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