NEW DELHI (AP) — Prime Minister Narendra Modi held virtual talks with Indian farmers Friday and asked them to explain how the government’s agricultural policies have benefited them, a month into massive farmer protests that have rattled his administration.
Modi’s talks with supporters of the legislation come while his government is making multiple efforts to placate tens of thousands of farmers who are blocking key highways on the outskirts of the capital in protests against new agricultural laws. The protesting farmers say the laws will dismantle regulated markets, favor big corporations, and make family-owned farms unviable, eventually leaving them landless.
Protesting farmers fear the government will stop buying grain at minimum guaranteed prices and corporations will then push down prices. The government says the three laws approved by Parliament in September will enable farmers to market their produce and boost production through private investment.
“Through these agricultural reforms, we have given better options to the farmers,” Modi said in his live address. He reiterated that the laws were a much-needed reform that would benefit farmers and accused opposition parties of spreading fears of farmers’ exploitation by corporations.
“Those making big speeches today did nothing for farmers when they were in power,” Modi said.