Addressing a virtual ‘kisan sammelan’, he asserted that the Narendra Modi-led government was taking several steps in the interest of the farming community.
“We are ready to hold talks with them (farmers) to discuss their genuine demands. We are ready to find a solution of this problem, but it is necessary that the farmer brothers join the talks again and put forth their points face to face,” he said.
Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and elsewhere have been protesting near various border points of Delhi, including Singhu and Tikri, for over a fortnight demanding that the Centre repeal three new farm laws.
The Housing and Urban Affairs minister said the Centre had given assurance on the issues of minimum support price (MSP) and mandi system, as well as dispute resolution to the agitating farmers.
“If they have anything more to discuss, then come. But this is not the time to remain adamant,” he said in an apparent reference to the farmers’ demand of repealing the farm laws.
Puri said everybody has the right to hold protest in a democracy.
“But there is also a way to hold protest. If you bring tractors near the national capital, that is not protest,” he said.
Notably, the Centre had proposed to give “written assurance” that the existing MSP regime for procurement would continue.
The government had also proposed to make necessary amendments on at least seven issues, including one to allay fears about the weakening of the mandi system.
However, farmers’ bodies have been seeking that the three farm laws be repealed while rejecting the government’s proposals.
Meanwhile, Puri praised the farmers of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh for bringing Green Revolution through their hard work.
He urged the Punjab BJP leadership to sit with the farmers and ask them if they believe that they will get relief with the amendments proposed by the government.
Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma said the BJP-led government at the Centre is always with the farmers.
“But some people are playing politics over this issue,” he alleged.
Puri said the agriculture budget under the BJP-led regime grew six times to Rs 1.34 lakh crore in the last six years.
The foodgrain production which was 251 million tonnes in 2015-16 is now about 296 million tonnes, he added.