Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar moves crucial farm bills in Rajya Sabha
The contentious farm bills that were passed in the Lok Sabha on September 17 have been moved in the Rajya Sabha by Union minister of agriculture and farmer welfare Narendra Singh Tomar.
Farmers’ and Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 will become laws after the Upper House also passes them on Sunday.
Out of the 245-member Rajya Sabha, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is confident of getting the support of over 130 members including nine members of the AIADMK and six of the YSR Congress if a division of votes is sought on these bills, according to news agency PTI.
The bills will deregularise farm foods from the Essential Commodities Act (ECA) and farmers will be allowed to sell their produce outside government-regulated markets.
According to the government, the bills aim to accelerate agricultural growth through private sector investment in building agricultural infrastructure and supply chains for Indian farm produce in national and global markets.
A government release called the passage of these bills a “historic-step” in unlocking the regulated agriculture markets in the country.
However, farmers believe that the bills will render the current Minimum Support Price (MSP) procurement system ineffective, leaving them at the mercy of “big farmers”. The farmers fear they would be forced to make distress sales to private companies.
The passage of these bills in Lok Sabha saw protests across the nation with farmers in Punjab holding a three-day ‘rail roko’ agitation from September 24 to September 26 and Opposition leaders burning copies of the bills in Parliament.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from the Narendra Modi Cabinet on Thursday in protest against the “anti-farmer” bills. “I think I failed to convince the government about the farmers’ grouse on the farm ordinances,” she said in an interview with Hindustan Times.