Rajasthan transport minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said the Punjab bills were in the interests of farmers, and said the state government will soon call an assembly session to introduce similar bills.(AP file photo)
Rajasthan transport minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said the Punjab bills were in the interests of farmers, and said the state government will soon call an assembly session to introduce similar bills.(AP file photo)

Farm laws: After Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan likely to follow suit

The Punjab assembly on Tuesday passed the bills and pledged to protect the interests of the state’s farmers, who are concerned that the central legislation would deprive them of government-fixed minimum support prices (MSPs) for their produce and put them at the mercy of big agribusinesses.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON OCT 21, 2020 03:49 AM IST

After Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan may be the next Congress-ruled states to introduce bills to counter the Centre’s farm reform bills in special sessions. Farmers’ leaders in different parts of the country, including those ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), urged their state governments to follow suit for safeguarding the interests of cultivators.

The Punjab assembly on Tuesday passed the bills and pledged to protect the interests of the state’s farmers, who are concerned that the central legislation would deprive them of government-fixed minimum support prices (MSPs) for their produce and put them at the mercy of big agribusinesses.

Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel on Tuesday proposed a special session of the state assembly on October 27 and 28 to introduce similar provisions.His proposal was returned by state governor Anusuiya Uikey, who sought the reason for holding the session. “In the proposal sent by the state government, the ‘subject’ of the special session was not mentioned, hence the governor has asked for it, and it is nothing more than that,” an official at Raj Bhavan said.

Baghel told reporters that the governor cannot prevent a government that has a full majority from holding an assembly session. “If governor has made some queries, then we will file {responses} by Tuesday evening and I don’t think permission will not be granted after that,” he said.

Rajasthan transport minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said the Punjab bills were in the interests of farmers, and said the state government will soon call an assembly session to introduce similar bills. In September, the state government issued an order extending the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) law to the entire state to regulate private entities buying produce directly from farmers.

With Punjab passing bills to provide farmers MSP protection, farmers’ bodies in neighbouring Haryana are building pressure on the state government led by the BJP to introduce similar safeguards. Like Punjab, 90% of the wheat and paddy produced in Haryana is procured by the government at MSPs.

“Punjab chief minister has taken a bold step and now Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar should also follow him and pass similar laws in the assembly so that the farmers of Haryana continue to get the benefit of MSP,” said farmers’ leader Sewa Singh Arya.

Haryana president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Gurnam Singh Charuni, said non-BJP state governments across the country should follow what he said was “the path the Punjab government has shown.”

Haryana agriculture minister JP Dalal said the Congress government in Punjab was “misleading innocent farmers”.

“Congress should stop playing politics over MSPs,” he said.

Shivkumar Sharma, president of the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh, an organisation of farmers in Madhya Pradesh, said: “Punjab has taken a welcome step. I will request all the non-BJP ruled states to follow the Punjab model.”

Madhya Pradesh’s farmers welfare and agriculture development minister Kamal Patel said: “Punjab government’s step in introducing its farm bills is a politically motivated move.”

The BKU in Uttar Pradesh wants the state government to protect the interests of farmers. “We have not placed any demand to the Uttar Pradesh government to act like Punjab but we have been consistently demanding the Centre to amend the laws, addressing our reservations on some issues and also provide statutory guarantee on continuation of MSPs to farmers,” BKU leader Naresh Tikait said.

A senior UP government official said on condition of anonymity that Uttar Pradesh had no plans to dilute the central laws. “Doing so is neither legally possible nor needed,” he said.

(With inputs from state bureaus)

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