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Modi Hails Passage of Farm Bills in Rajya Sabha as 'Watershed Moment', Assures MSPs Would Continue

File photo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the media outside Parliament in New Delhi, on September 14, 2020. (Press Information Bureau via AP)

File photo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the media outside Parliament in New Delhi, on September 14, 2020. (Press Information Bureau via AP)

The bills passed by Parliament will liberate farmers from the constraints of middlemen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

Hailing the passage of the agriculture reform bills as in Rajya Sabha a “watershed moment”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday again assured protesting farmers that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system won’t be touched and government purchase of their produce would continue.

“A watershed moment in the history of Indian agriculture! Congratulations to our hardworking farmers on the passage of key bills in Parliament, which will ensure a complete transformation of the agriculture sector as well as empower crores of farmers,” Modi said on Twitter, shortly after the bills were passed amid opposition chaos in the Upper House.

“For decades, the Indian farmer was bound by various constraints and bullied by middlemen. The bills passed by Parliament liberate the farmers from such adversities. These bills will add impetus to the efforts to double income of farmers and ensure greater prosperity for them,” he added.

The two contentious farm bills -- Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 -- were passed amid chaos in the Rajya Sabha, three days after they were cleared in the Lok Sabha.

A voice vote to pass the bills was drowned amid sloganeering by opposition members, some of who wanted the discussion to be continued on Monday, while others wanted the bills to be sent to a Select Committee. Some MPs trooped to the Well of the Upper House, while Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien rushed to the Chair and tore up with documents.

Before the pandemonium broke out, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar assured the House that "MSPs will not be touched at any cost. It is not just these Bills, many steps have been taken to double farmers' income in the past 6 years. There is no need to doubt that farmers will continue to avail MSP."

“Despite recommendations of various commissions and experts, the Congress never did justice to farmers who found themselves helpless for years. Today, when the Congress realised they don't have support in the Rajya Sabha, they resorted to 'gundagardi (hooliganism)',” Tomar later told reporters outside the House.

The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 seeks to provide freedom to farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, provides for a national framework on farming agreements that protects and empowers farmers to engage with agri-business firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or large retailers for farm services.


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