The BKU spokesperson, responding to Modi’s address, said, ‘There will not be business over hunger in the country. If hunger goes up, price of crops will be decided accordingly. Those wanting business over hunger will be driven out of the country.’

File image of farmer leader Rakesh Tikait. PTI

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Responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Rajya Sabha address on Monday, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait on Monday said that farmers will not allow business over hunger and reiterated the demand for a law on minimum support price (MSP).

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Tikait was responding to Modi’s speech, in which the prime minister addressed concerns that the provision of MSP will end if the new farm laws are implemented. Speaking during the Motion of Thanks on the President’s address, Modi said, “MSP was there. MSP is there. MSP will remain in the future.”

Tikait countered the prime minister’s statement and said that farmers will not allow the price of crops to fluctuate “like the price of a flight ticket changes three to four times a day”.

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Desh mein bhook pe vyaapaar nahi hoga. Bhook kitni lagegi anaaj ki keemat utni hogi. Desh mein bhook se vyaapaar karne walon ko baahar nikaala jaaega (There will not be business over hunger in the country. If hunger goes up, price of crops will be decided accordingly. Those wanting business over hunger will be driven out of the country),” he told reporters.

He also said that a law stipulating the provision of MSP will be beneficial to all farmers, and added that due to the absence of such a law, traders “loot” farmers by buying crops at lower prices.

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Thousands of farmers have been protesting against the Centre’s agri laws at Delhi’s borders for over two months. Rallied by around 40 unions, the farmers have been demanding a complete repeal of the current laws which were enacted in September 2020.

On Modi’s remark about the emergence of a “new community” which is “engaged in protests”, Tikait said, “Yes, this time it is the farmers’ community which has emerged and people are also supporting the farmers”.

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Tikait also said that the farmers will remain united despite attempts to divide the protest on caste and religious lines.

“This movement was first portrayed as Punjab’s issue, then Sikhs’ then Jats, so on and so forth. The farmers of the country are united. There is no small farmer or big farmer. The movement belongs to all farmers,” he said.

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In Parliament, Modi had made a pitch for the new laws and stated that “affordable ration for the poor will continue and mandis will be modernised”.

While lauding the Sikh community, Modi also mentioned that “some people were trying to make a living out of protests”, The Indian Express reported.

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“Some people are feeding wrong things in the minds of Sikh people. This country is proud of the Sikhs. What have they not done for this country? However much we praise them is not enough. The kind of language used for them, people who try to mislead them, this is not going to benefit anyone

“There are some people who make a living out of protests. You can find them in every protest site,” Modi said.

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Farmer leader Abhimanyu Kohar, who is also member of Samkyukta Kisan Morcha, also slammed the Centre over the protests after Modi’s speech. He said that the government has already said “hundreds of times” that the MSP will not go anywhere and it will remain.

“If the government is claiming that MSP will remain, why doesn’t it provide a legal guarantee on the minimum support price for our crops,” Kohar told PTI.

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Asked about Modi’s invitation to farmer unions for talks, he said that protesting farmer unions are ready to hold talks with the government, but it should come through formal channels. “Any issue can be resolved through proper dialogue. We are ready in-principle to resume talks,” the farmer leader.

Sukhdev Singh, Punjab general secretary of BKU Ekta Ugrahan, sought to know why the government is not ensuring a legal guarantee on MSP for crops, adding that it is trying to divert the issue.

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With inputs from PTI

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