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PM invites farmers for talks, takes a dig at Congress for U-turn on reforms

The Prime Minister also said that there is a need to protect the nation from a new FDI which he referred to as ‘Foreign Destructive Ideology’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday invited the protesting farmers for talks and urged them to call off their stir while assuring them that the current minimum support price (MSP) for key crops would remain in place. At the same time he took a dig at the Congress for doing a U-turn on farm reforms by quoting his predecessor Manmohan Singh's statement supporting the change when he was the Prime Minister during the UPA regime.

"We are ready for talks and I am inviting you from this House. MSP that, MSP hai aur MSP rahega (Minimum Support Price will remain). No one should spread misinformation," PM Modi said in the Rajya Sabha in his reply to Motion of Thanks on President Kovind’s address.

"We need to move forward, not backward. We need to give these reforms a chance," he added.

The PM criticised opposition parties for what he called their silence on the core issues linked to the farmer protests.

"It is our intention to remove all those handicaps which come in the way of India realizing its vast potential as one large common market," the PM quoted Manmohan Singh as saying.  "Manmohan Ji had talked about giving a free market to farmers and make India a large common market."

"You should be proud – Manmohan Singh talked about it but Modi is having to do it," he remarked while firing a salvo at the Congress MPs.

He pointed out that the number of marginal farmers with small land holdings, he said, had increased since 1971 from 51 per cent to 68 per cent.

"Today, there are 86 per cent farmers who have less than two hectares of land. That means 12 crore farmers. Doesn't the country have any responsibility towards these farmers?"

Highlighting various schemes of his government for marginal farmers, the Prime Minister said every government had spoken for the reforms in the agriculture sector but various parties had taken a "u-turn".

"It's fine that you (opposition) are attacking the government on the protests but you should have also told the farmers that change is necessary for development."

Referring to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said "at least they will listen to him if not me" on reforms.

'Foreign Destructive Ideology'

The Prime Minister also said that there is a need to protect the nation from a new FDI which he referred to as ‘Foreign Destructive Ideology’. “The nation is making progress and we are talking about FDI but I see that a new FDI has come to the fore. We have to protect the nation from this new FDI. We need Foreign Direct Investment but the new FDI is ‘Foreign Destructive Ideology’, we have to protect ourselves from it,” he said.

Modi said opposition to the Centre’s newly passed farm laws lacks in substance and that they have been stalled for decades. Reiterating that his government is working for the small farmers, he said that the government has initiated changes in the agriculture sector aimed at empowering the farmer since 2014.

The Prime Minister called India the “mother of democracy.” Expressing gratitude to all the parliamentarians, PM Modi said the credit for battling the pandemic goes to the citizens and not to the government. He also said that the world has recognised India’s potential to tackle the pandemic. Taking a jibe at the opposition for boycotting President Kovind’s address, PM Modi said, “It would have been better had the Opposition heard the President’s address. But it is the power of his speech that without hearing his speech, the Opposition spoke a lot about it.”