'This is a death warrant': Congress hits back after farm bill tabled in Rajya Sabha

BJP is assumed to have enough numbers to push the legislation through the Parliament

PTI12_11_2019_000287B Representational image

The contentious agricultural ordinances promulgated by the Centre in the Rajya Sabha today faced stiff opposition, with Congress calling it a "death warrant" and refusing to back it. The move comes amid sustained opposition against the legislation from the farmers and the opposition parties; Bharatiya Kisan Union's Haryana unit announced it will hold a statewide protest on Sunday, during which they will block roads for three hours, even as Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar appealed for deferring the stir and invited them for talks.

The BJP is assumed to have just about enough numbers to push the legislation through the Parliament.

Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar, introduced The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, in the monsoon session of the Lok Sabha.

Tomar said the bills will enable barrier-free trade in agricultural produce, and also empower farmers to engage with investors of their choice.

The Congress and other parties are opposing the bills saying such a move will not be in the interests of the farmers as they will kill the protective provisions in the APMC Act, and Minimum Support Price (MSP). The farmer bodies are agitating saying that the changes will benefit the big corporates, and farmers will lose in the long run.

This bill will replace the APMC Act under which farmers could sell their agri-produce in the notified APMC market yards. The farmers were also restricted to sell the produce only to registered licensees of the state governments.

“This legislation is a historic-step in unlocking the vastly regulated agriculture markets in the country. It will open more choices for the farmer, reduce marketing costs for the farmers and help them in getting better prices. It will also help farmers of regions with surplus produce to get better prices and consumers of regions with shortages, lower price,” the Centre said.

Political pushback

The opposition parties alleged in the Parliament the new laws will undermine the safety net provided to the farmers by the MSP system and will lead to their exploitation by big companies. They alleged that the Centre brought in the legislations without consulting the states under whose domain agriculture and mandis fall.

"This is a case of legislative overreach and a direct attack on the federal structure of the Constitution," Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, while opposing the bills.


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