Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday blamed the opposition for the ongoing stir by thousands of farmers, who have been protesting the three new farm laws by camping near Delhi's borders, saying they have been misled.
"People who are sitting in the Opposition and misleading farmers today were in the favour of these farm reforms during their government. They could not make a decision during their government. Today when the nation has taken a historical step then these people are misleading farmers," PM Modi said.
PM Modi was addressing the public after laying the foundation stone for a desalination plant and a milk processing and packaging plant in Gujarat's Kutch.
"The country is asking why small farmers who produce grains and pulses should not get the freedom to sell crops. Agricultural reforms were in demand for years. Many farmers' organisations have also demanded in advance that they should be given an option to sell food grains anywhere," PM Modi said backing the clauses from the recently-cleared laws by the government.
"Today those who are confusing the farmers by sitting in the opposition, have supported these reforms in their time. They just kept giving false comfort to the farmers. When the country has taken these steps, they are now confusing the farmers," he said.
Modi said that a conspiracy is going on to confuse the farmers.
"They are being scared that after new agrarian reforms, others will occupy the land of the farmers. You tell me, if a dairyman contracts to take milk from you, does he take your animal?" he asked.
Extending support to the farmers via his address, Modi said: "I am again telling farmer brothers and sisters that the government is ready 24 hours to solve their every doubt. The interest of farmers has been the priority of our government since day one."
Thousands of farmers hailing from Punjab and Haryana have been protesting in and around the national capital demanding the repeal of three farm laws, alleging that it will reduce their earnings and will give larger control to the corporations.
As the protests entered the 20th day, there have been no signs of a resolution to the standoff between the farmers' unions and the government. So far, the Indian government side - represented by agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, food minister Piyush Goyal and minister of state for commerce and industries Som Prakash have engaged in five rounds of negotiations with 40 farmer unions without any resolution.
Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country. However, the many thousands of farmers protesting at Delhi borders have expressed apprehension that it will pave the way for eliminating the minimum support price (MSP) cushion and do away with the mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.