Punjab CM presents draft resolution rejecting farm laws, urges Centre to make MSP statutory
As soon as the House assembled on the second day of the special assembly session, the chief minister introduced the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment Bill, 2020; the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020.Updated: Oct 20, 2020, 11:58 IST
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday presented a draft resolution rejecting the Centre’s farm laws and the proposed Electricity Amendment Bill, with an appeal to all parties in the state to rise above political interests in the spirit of “saving Punjab”.
The draft resolution presented on the second day of the special assembly session seeks annulment of the farm laws and the proposed Electricity Bill, as well as promulgation of “a fresh ordinance making the procurement of foodgrains on the minimum support price (MSP) a statutory right of the farmers and continue with procurement by the Government of India through Food Corporation of India and other such agencies.”
Regretting that several legislators indulged in frivolous activities on Monday to gain political mileage, with some coming in tractors and some spending the night in the assembly precincts in protest against the non-receipt of his government’s Bills, the chief minister said he had signed the same at 9.30pm after extensive discussions and consultations with experts. “Such delays in sharing copies of Bills happen in an emergency session,” he said, pointing to something similar happening when his government had brought in the Punjab Termination of Water Agreements Act during his last tenure in 2004.
BILLS BASIS FOR STATE’S LEGAL BATTLE
Captain Amarinder Singh said the Bills being presented on Tuesday would form the basis of the state’s legal battle ahead and, hence, needed to be thoroughly vetted before presentation.
The draft resolution expresses the regret of the assembly over the “callous and inconsiderate attitude of the Government of India in attending to the concerns of the farming community on recent farm legislation enacted by them.” It reads that the assembly is constrained to unanimously reject the three (farm) laws and the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
Referring to The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, the draft resolution notes that the Union Government had converted the relevant farm ordinances into Acts and notified the same on September 24 and 26 even though the concerns and sentiments of the House were conveyed to the Prime Minister through a letter by the chief minister on September 14.
‘FARM LAWS ENCROACH ON STATE SUBJECT’
“These three legislation along with the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020, are clearly against the interests of farmers and landless workers, and time-tested agriculture marketing system established not only in Punjab but also in original Green Revolution areas of Punjab, Haryana, and western UP,” it said, adding that the Government of India had enacted trade and not farm legislation.
Further, said the draft resolution, these laws are also against the Constitution, which comprises agriculture as a subject of the state. These legislation encroach upon the functions and the powers of the states, as enshrined in the country’s Constitution, said the draft resolution, read out by the Speaker.
CENTRE WANTS TO FINISH PDS, CLAIMS SIDHU
Amritsar East Congress MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu also questioned Modi on implementing the MS Swaminathan report recommendations. “What happened to the promises? These new laws have snatched the basic rights of farmers. They will be helpless,” Sidhu said, alleging that the Centre’s intention was to finish the public distribution system (PDS).
Shiromani Akali Dal legislators, led by Bikramjit Singh Majithia, burnt a copy of the Centre’s new farm laws outside the Vidhan Sabha.
AAP MLAs STAY IN ASSEMBLY COMPLEX OVERNIGHT
The two-day special session began on Monday with the opposition Aam Aadmi Party MLAs holding a dharna and spending the night in the assembly complex, demanding copies of the Bills the Congress government was to introduce.
The 13 AAP MLAs, who sat in the Well of the House till late on Monday evening after which they moved to the gallery outside the assembly, confined themselves within the complex.
On Monday, finance and acting parliamentary affairs minister Manpreet Singh Badal said that the state government is consulting constitutional experts on the issue of legislation to counter the new farm laws and added copies of various Bills to be tabled during the session will be given to the opposition parties by the evening.
Even after the adjournment of the session for the day on Monday afternoon, AAP legislators continued their dharna, demanding copies of the Bill to counter the legislation enacted by the Centre.
Late at night, the Leader of Opposition and AAP leader Harpal Singh Cheema said, “We will sit here through the night and continue the protest as we are yet get copies of this and other Bills to be tabled during the session.
“The AAP will support the legislation against the farm laws but the government should have given us its copies. We haven’t got copies of other Bills as well. How can our legislators discuss and debate important issues?” Cheema said.
As the assembly area had to be sanitised and sealed overnight in view of the Covid-19 situation, the AAP MLAs, including the women legislators of the party, were asked to shift outside the House.
Earlier, the AAP members were persuaded by the Speaker, deputy speaker and Vidhan Sabha officials to end their protest, but they remained adamant on their demand.
WHEN CONGRESS MLAs SPENT NIGHT IN ASSEMBLY
Four years ago when Congress was in opposition in Punjab, their party MLAs had spent the night in the Punjab assembly seeking a debate on the no-confidence motion against the ruling SAD-BJP combine, which was defeated by voice vote, and had refused to vacate the House till the government gave an assurance that a discussion will be allowed on it.