Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday quoted Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and said that “India was not just the biggest democracy, but the mother of democracy”, as he took on the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha over the recent developments in the ongoing farmers’ protests.
"Our democracy is not a Western institution, but a human institution. We have forgotten what Netaji stood for. We are celebrating his 125th birth anniversary, but we forgot to tell the world that India is the mother of democracy. From surgical strike or airstrike, the world has witnessed our power,” PM Modi said.
Deriding the Congress for taking a “U-turn” on farm reform laws, PM Modi read out one of former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s quote where he advocated for reform in the ‘mandis’. “Manmohan Singh here, I'd read out his quote. Those taking a U-Turn will perhaps agree with him. ‘There are other rigidities because of marketing regime set up in 1930s, which prevent our farmers from selling their produce where they get highest rate of return,” he said.
“The MPs raised the issue of farmers’ protest in the Parliament, but none of them spoke why this happened. Nobody thought about the small farmers. We all know their condition. Since 2014, we have taken some steps in their interest and initiated changes in the agriculture sector aimed at empowering the farmer. The crop insurance scheme was changed to make it more farmer-friendly. The PM-KISAN scheme was also brought in. We are working for the small farmers,” PM Modi said.
“There are challenges. But we have to decide whether we want to be part of the problem or the medium of solution. I would like to appreciate the contribution of HD Devegowda to the discussions relating to agriculture in the house. His words have added great perspective to the debate. He himself has a strong association with the agriculture sector,” he said.
Besides, PM Modi attacked the Trinamool Congress as he said that the farmers in West Bengal “are deprived of” the benefits provided by the Centre because of politics “of the ruling establishment there”.
Taking a swipe at the TMC, PM Modi said, “I was listening to Derek, he had chosen good words - Freedom of Speech, Intimidation. When I was listening to him, I was wondering if he is talking about Bengal or the country. He sees all this for 24 hours, so he might have said the same here too.”
“Each government in the past have advocated for farm reforms, including Sharad Pawar. We are always open for talks with farmers. I have said this in past and saying it again. We have to convince the agitators. Someone has to do this work. We are open for talks with the agitators — send the old people home,” PM Modi said.
Reiterating the government’s position on the minimum support price, PM Modi said, “MSP was there, is there and will remain in the future. Affordable ration for the poor will continue, but mandis will be modernised.”
“Today there is a new class of people called ‘andolan jivi’. They can’t live without doing ‘andolan’ (protest) and we need to identify such people. They are there when there are protests by lawyers, students or anyone,” he said.
Meanwhile, subtly hitting out at the recent Twitter controversy over international celebrities and activists solidarity tweets on farmers’ protests, PM Modi said, “There is also a new form of FDI, which can been seen today. It is the foreign destructive ideology and we need to be aware of this. We need to save the country from it.”
Turning towards Congress stalwart Ghulam Nabi Azad, PM Modi said, "He always speaks decently, never uses foul language. We should learn this from him. I respect him for it. He praised the elections held in Jammu and Kashmir. I believe your party will take it in the right spirit and commit mistake of doing the opposite by listening to suggestions of G-23."
Taking a dig at Congress leader Pratap Singh Bajwa, he said, "Bajwa from Congress was speaking in such detail that I thought he will reach Emergency (period) shortly and speak on it, he is just one step away from it. But he didn't go there. Congress disappoints this country a lot, you did that too."
Meanwhile, Azad slammed the Union government over its decisions on Jammu and Kashmir and said, “It was claimed that development will come to Kashmir after removal of 370. But no new project has come so far, even existing businesses have closed. Development is only on TV, not on ground. Even ceasefire violations have increased.”
Congress leader Jaiveer Shergill tweeted, attacking the PM Modi over his promise on MSP, and said, “farmers cannot trust the PM’s speech because they know the difference between law and lofty speeches.”