Less than 24 hours after the oldest ally in the NDA, the Shiromani Akali Dal, announced a parting of ways over the three farm Bills passed last week by Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the benefits of the Bills in his monthly radio broadcast, Mann ki Baat .
Mr. Modi highlighted instances of farmers breaking free from restrictions imposed by the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Acts in various States to trade their crops freely and profitably.
The Prime Minister’s remarks come after a stormy monsoon session of Parliament where the Bills aimed at reforming trade in agricultural produce were cleared, sparking protests in various parts of the country by farmers groups and Opposition parties.
Referring to the Bills, Mr. Modi said, “Farmers now have the power to sell their produce anywhere and to anyone and they have the freedom to grow any crop and to sell it at a price best suited to them.”
He recalled instances during the lockdown where farmers in Theni in Tamil Nadu got together and pooled in crops of fruits and vegetables to sell as packages in Chennai.
He also spoke of one Ismail Bhai of Banaskantha of Gujarat, whose family was wary of his undertaking agriculture as a largely non-remunerative activity. However, because Gujarat ended the APMC system for fruits and vegetables, Ismail Bhai is earning a good profit from his potato crop, Mr. Modi said.
Farmers are the basis of the concept of Atmanirbhar Bharat , he added.
He also highlighted the power of story telling in disseminating values to the younger generation and spoke of story telling groups in Bengaluru.
In the coming weeks, he said, India will be marking the anniversaries related to leaders associated with the freedom struggle and contemporary India. “October 2 marks the birth anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri. If we had followed Gandhiji’s path, we would already be atmanirbhar (self reliant),” he said.
He mentioned the contributions of revolutionary Bhagat Singh and made a laudable reference to the late Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindhia of Gwalior, recalling her maternal touch towards himself and many BJP workers.