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Union Minister's 'Open Challenge' to Rahul Gandhi for debate on farm laws

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Chennai, Dec 25: Union Minister Prakash Javadekar has alleged that "some" farmers protesting against the recently enacted Central laws were misguided by their "political masters" and that they were painting a picture as if farmers across the country were with them.

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar

Lashing out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his criticism of the farm laws, Javadekar said "he appears (in public) once in a fortnight" and challenged him for an open debate on the central legislations.

Farmers in India are happy with the farm laws and other pro-farmer initiatives such as the PM Kisan scheme, the minister for environment and information said.

Addressing farmers at a meeting at Maraimalai Nagar, near Chennai, organised by the Tamil Nadu unit of the BJP, Javadekar claimed that the Punjab farmers have received more than double the amount as MSP during the NDA rule than they had got in the previous UPA regime.

"The Punjab farmers have received every year more than double the amount that they got as MSP during the Congress-led UPA rule. Their income has already doubled and they are experiencing it. Still, they are agitating as they are being misguided," the minister said.

The farmers' protest against the farm laws has become an intense topic for debate across India because "some farmers and their political masters have launched their agitation in and along New Delhi, showing as if it is all-India phenomenon and in the interest of farmers of India."

"But farmers everywhere are happy with the new laws and the farmers'' welfare schemes will continue," the minister said.

He assured that the contentious minimum support price (MSP) and Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) will continue and underlined that the Modi government "will solidly" stand behind the farmers and the common man.

During their ten-year rule, the Congress and the DMK had only extended Rs 53,000 crore as one-time loan waiver to farmers and had not even implemented the MS Swaminathan Commitee report on MSP, he alleged.

"This amount (of Rs 53,000 crore) was given to the banks and not to the farmers. But now Prime Minister Modi is depositing Rs 2,000 directly in the bank accounts of the farmers. PM Modi has already paid Rs 1.20 lakh crore directly to the bank accounts of the ryots (farmers)," Javadekar said.

This sum also included the digital deposits of Rs 18,000 crore to 9 crore farmers by the Prime Minister today, under the PM-KISAN scheme, the minister who earlier released a book "Modi Government that protects farmers wellbeing," said.

The first book was presented by BJP state president L Murugan.

Lashing out at the Congress and its ally DMK, Javadekar said that though the Swaminathan committee report was filed in 2006 the UPA did not implement it but PM "Modi accepted it."

Javadekar said Rahul Gandhi has "also jumped into this" matter.

"Rahul Gandhi has also jumped into this and he comes rarely, he appears once in a fortnight... he suddenly said you have to withdraw the laws. I am giving him open challenge for a debate, whether the laws are good, (are) in the interest of the farmers or not. I will challenge Rahul Gandhi and the DMK for a debate," Javadekar said.

Punjab farmers were "deliberately misguided" that their MSP will go away after these laws, following which they have been protesting near Delhi for a month now, he said. But their counterparts from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh among others were not agitating since they were not being misguided, he added.

"There is no place for any misunderstanding or misgiving... we solidly stand behind farmers, behind the common man of the country," the minister said.

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