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Notwithstanding state elections, Modi govt determined to push for farm sector reforms

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Notwithstanding political compulsions of state elections—five states including West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala will go to polls this year– Prime Minister Narendra Modi has indicated that his government will not go back on farm sector reforms even as farmers continued to protest against the three farm laws.

Underlining that agriculture reforms were the need of the hour, Modi said farmers need to realise better prices for their produce. He also highlighted that private investment in the agriculture sector was critical.

Sources said that the ruling BJP will raise the pitch on the importance of reforms and create a narrative that “good economics is good politics” though there has been widespread protest against the three farm laws.

They said that the government will push the pedal on the reform process not just in agriculture but in other sectors as well. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has already prescribed bold reform measures including privatization of two state owned banks and a general insurance company in the Union Budget 2021-22.

Last week, Modi, taking the narrative forward, also noted that the government had “no business to be in business” “It is government's duty to support enterprises and businesses. But it is not essential that it should own and run enterprises,” he said.

“We will not go back on the reform process. We believe in the mantra that good economic is good politics. It is not the other way round,” Gopal Krishna Agarwal, BJP’s national spokesperson for economic affairs told India Narrative.

Another insider said that BJP’s economic agenda will not alter due to the state elections. “The government will stick to the reform prescriptions, we all know that these are game changing initiatives but politics has always won in the past. It is time to change that, we need to focus on economic revival especially now after the Coronavirus pandemic,” he said.

Modi, who has often been attacked by the opposition parties for being pro-private sector, has deviated from the age-old practice of vilifying wealth creators. "To use improper words against the private sector may have got votes for a few people in the past but those times are gone. The culture of abusing the private sector is not acceptable any longer. We cannot keep insulting our youth like this," the Prime Minister said.

Niti Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar told India Narrative that the process of reforms and development must be turned into a “Jan Andolan” or a mass movement.

“The PM has always insisted that development has to be a Janandolan, everybody must finally get involved in the development process of the country… of which reforms are a necessary part of.. this is where we have to move,” he said.