Amid farmers' protests at Delhi borders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi via a video conferencing on Friday released Rs 18,000 crore to more than 9 crore farmer families from different parts of the country under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN). "Today, more than Rs 18,000 crores have been directly deposited in the accounts of farmers; no middlemen, no commissions," PM told the farmers.
PM Modi said the farm bills will allow farmers to sell their produce to anyone and anywhere. "What is wrong if the farmers are being benefitted," he asked. The PM said West Bengal is the only state that has not implemented the central government schemes, thereby depriving its people from benefits. "Mamata Banerjee's ideology has destroyed Bengal," he said, asking Opposition parties as to why they were silent on this?
"The groups talking about mandis and APMC are the ones that destroyed West Bengal and Kerala. There are no APMCs and mandis in Kerala. So, why are no protests in Kerala? Why don't they start a movement there? But are only misguiding the farmers of Punjab," he said.
December 25 also marks the birth anniversary of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. To mark the occasion, the PM interacted virtually with 9 crore PM-KISAN beneficiary families. "I received my Kisan Credit Card in 2019. I took an amount of Rs 27,000 on loan from the bank on a mere 4 per cent interest as compared to 20 per cent from intermediaries," Naveen, a farmer from Odisha told PM Modi, reported ANI.
So far, I've received Rs 10,000 under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi. Under the new farm laws, we can now sell the farm produce to any private business/organisation. This year, I sold 85 quintal soybean to ITC: Manoj Patidar, farmer from Dhar, Madhya Pradesh during interaction with the PM pic.twitter.com/pe2gc55EOY— ANI (@ANI) December 25, 2020
Manoj Patidar, another farmer from Dhar, Madhya Pradesh, told the PM that so far he had received Rs 10,000 under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi. "Under the new farm laws, we can now sell the farm produce to any private business/organisation. This year, I sold 85 quintal soybean to ITC," he said.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who was also present during the virtual conference, appealed the farmers at Delhi borders to end their protest and come forward for the talks. "I hope they will understand the importance of the new farm laws, and the issue will be resolved soon," he added.
Meanwhile, Home Minister Amit Shah, during a rally at Mehrauli, Delhi, said PM Modi was the true well-wisher of farmers. "The three farm laws are in the favour of the farmers. Nobody can remove MSP system or snatch farmers' land from them. The government is ready to hold talks with farmers' unions with an open heart," Shah said. He added the Opposition was misleading farmers regarding MSP. "I want to make it clear that the MSP system will remain," he clarified.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also said there has been a misconception that minimum support price will end. "Prime Minister has said and I'll also give my word that MSP won't end. It is farmers who've supported the country whenever it underwent economic recession & we've seen this many times," he said, reported ANI.
The defence minister urged farmers to allow these laws to be implemented for a year or two. "After this, if you think these laws are not in favour of farmers, then, I'm sure as I know our PM's intention, we'll make all the required amendments in it," he said.
Notably, the Centre has agreed to discuss all the demands put forward by farmers' unions, including the issues of higher minimum support price (MSP) and repeal of the controversial laws. The government has assured the farmers that it is also ready to discuss all demands made in the previous rounds of meetings. The agricultural ministry, in its letter to over 40 farm unions, has said it's ready to discuss all issues of concerns, including the MSP (minimum support price), despite that it has nothing to do with the passing of three agri-marketing bills.