Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke more than 25 times on farm reforms and led the government’s effort to reach out to farmers, top sources said today, challenging the perception that the new farm laws at the core of massive protests were enacted without enough consultation.
Sources said the government had reached out to farmers “before and after” enacting the agricultural laws. “PM spoke more than 25 times, more than 2.23 crore SMS were sent to farmers in October and 1,37,054 webinars were held that reached out to 92 lakhs farmers and the Agriculture Minister (Narendra Tomar) had multiple meetings,” said sources.
The PM speaking about the reforms “more than 25 times” amounted to almost one address every week on the subject, the sources said.
The perception that the central government has not done extensive outreach and consultations with the farmers and their representatives is misplaced, they said, emphasizing that “multiple levels” were involved in the effort.
The government’s detailed clarification came on a day a prominent farmer group approached the Supreme Court asking it to scrap the three laws that have led to thousands of farmers protesting on highways near Delhi, determined to continue their agitation as long as it takes.
The petition says the laws are “arbitrary” and were passed without adequate discussion.
The government has offered amendments to the laws, which were passed in September in an attempt to overhaul procurement procedures and open up the market.
Farmers, however, fear the laws will end regulated markets that bought their produce at minimum guaranteed prices and leave them at the mercy of private buyers.
Many opposition parties have backed their demands, accusing the government of rushing the bills through an abbreviated parliament session and without proper procedure in the Rajya Sabha.