Modi will never take any steps to hurt Punjab farmers: Hardeep Puri

Accusing opposition parties of spreading lies and illusions over the new farm laws, the Union civil aviation minister asserted that there was nothing in the new legislations that will affect farmers

Hardeep Singh Puri
File Photo of Hardeep Singh Puri

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will never take any step that will adversely affect Punjab farmers and Sikhs, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Tuesday, citing decisions like opening of the Kartarpur Corridor taken by the central government.

Accusing opposition parties of spreading "lies and illusions" over the new farm laws, the Union civil aviation minister asserted that there was nothing in the new legislations that will affect farmers adversely and added that the MSP and the mandi system would continue to stay.

Addressing a group of farmers through video-conferencing, Puri said the new legislations would allow farmers to sell their crops outside mandis and fetch better returns.

Accompanied by BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh and senior party leader Sambit Patra, Puri added that copies of the farm laws should be translated into Punjabi and distributed among farmers.

Farmers in Punjab have been protesting against the new farm laws.

Puri said the Modi government had taken many steps for the agriculture sector like creation of infrastructure fund.

"When the country's prime minister, such a person who has worked for Punjab and Sikhs be it removal of blacklist (removal of names of Sikh foreign nationals from blacklist), opening of Kartarpur Corridor, allowing foreign donations for the Golden Temple, he (Modi) took several such steps. Those who were responsible for 1984 anti-Sikh riots are in jails today," he said.

The minister further cited the start of train service from Amritsar to other Sikh pilgrimage centres and scholarships for Sikh children as some of the decisions taken by the Modi government in the past five years.

"It can never be that Modiji, who is doing so much for Punjab and Sikhs, will ever think of any such step which will adversely affect our Sikh brothers or hard working farmers," said Puri.

Seeking to ally apprehensions of the farmers over the farm legislations, he said the Modi government had been saying from the beginning that the minimum support price and the mandi system would continue to stay.

Dubbing the new farm laws as "reforms" being brought after 100 years, Puri said some people spread "illusions" that the corporates would take over farmers' land.

"The laws clearly say that farmers' land will not be acquired and mortgaged while safeguards have been provided in these laws," he said.

In case of any dispute in connection with contract farming, Puri said, farmers could approach the sub-divisional magistrate. He further said that they could also approach the courts if they were not satisfied with SDM's decision.

"It was nowhere mentioned that if farmers are not happy with the SDM or the district magistrate's decision then they cannot approach the court. Our opponents are spreading such a lie," the Union minister said.

On a question over doubling of farmers' income, Puri said the Punjab government imposes a tax of Rs 3,500 crore in the state, apparently referring to the mandi tax.

"If Rs 3,500 crore tax comes into the pockets of farmers, I feel that the income will not only double but also go beyond that," he added.

Replying to a question on how rural roads would be constructed if taxes are not collected, Puri said the Centre had many initiatives like 'Gramin Yojna' for roads. "It is important that the fruits of the farmers' hard labour go into their pockets," he said.

The minister said he was pained to learn about the vehicle of Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma being attacked on Monday.

People behind this attack are those who are trying to defame the farmers' agitation, he claimed.

Sharma's vehicle was allegedly attacked at Cholang toll plaza in Hoshiarpur district.

The BJP has accused some activists of the Punjab Youth Congress of carrying out this attack.