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Farm laws: Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government in a dilemma

PUBLISHED ON SEP 30, 2020 12:23 AM IST


Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, comprising the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena, appears to be in a dilemma over the contentious farm laws passed recently by Parliament.

The Centre had issued three ordinances in June, replacing them with three bills – Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Service Bill, 2020, and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 – which were passed by Parliament last week.

After the bills were passed, deputy chief minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar announced that the state government would not implement the farm laws in the state. Revenue minister and state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat also claimed that the three ruling parties have opposed the bills and the issue would be discussed in a coordination committee meeting. However, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray hasn’t yet made a public comment on the row. His government had even issued a circular in August, directing the local authorities to implement in letter and spirit the ordinance that preceded the legislation. “I am sure after due deliberations, all three parties will be on the same page. The Congress and NCP have already opposed the implementation of the laws. The issue will now be discussed with the Sena,” Thorat told HT.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Tuesday said the decision on implementation of the laws will be taken by the government. “We had opposed the bills in Parliament and I fully agree with the sentiments expressed by the Congress-NCP leaders. CM Thackeray has been holding discussions with his cabinet colleagues and the decision will be announced by him,” he said.

On Monday, Congress president Sonia Gandhi asked all Congress-ruled states to explore the possibility of enacting the legislation under Article 254(2) of the Constitution to negate the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Central government’s “anti-agricultural laws” and prevent “grave injustice” from being done to farmers.

A senior Congress leader in Maharashtra said they were holding consultations within the party and with their alliance partners. “We are consulting with the law and judiciary department. It will be discussed in a coordination meeting of ruling parties. The Shiv Sena’s stance on the bills was initially shaky, but they have realised the nuances of the laws after nationwide protests,” said a Congress leader, on condition of anonymity.

The circular on implementation was issued on August 10 by Maharashtra marketing director Satish Soni. “As per the provisions in the ordinances, the farmers are free to market their produce at field, factory, warehouse or cold storage without any hindrance and without any market fee applicable under APMC Act. Any other fee or charges applicable under APMC Act cannot be charged now as per the provisions made in the ordinances. The law and judiciary department has vetted the ordinances and validated its applicability. Though the existence of the APMCs has not been affected by promulgation of the ordinance, the farmers will have a parallel mechanism to get fair prices for their produce. The market committees are expected to implement the provisions in the ordinances effectively,” the circular stated.

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