Political tussle over new farm laws heats up
Political slugfest over the new farm laws intensified on Tuesday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the protesting opposition parties of “opposing farmers’ independence”, while Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged that the laws were a “stab in the farmers’ hearts”.
Accusing the opposition of working against farmers’ interests, the prime minister said, “A few days ago with the new laws, the country has freed its farmers from many shackles. Now a farmer can sell his produce to anyone, anywhere. But today, even when the central government is giving the farmers their rights, these people [opposition parties] have come down to protest and are opposing the independence of the farmer.”
Referring to Monday’s incident when members of the Punjab unit of Youth Congress set a tractor on fire at near the India Gate lawns in New Delhi , he said, “These people are now humiliating the farmers by setting fire to the goods and equipment that the farmer worships.”
Modi was inaugurating six sewage treatment plants in Uttarakhand under Namami Gange via video conferencing.
The three bills - the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Service Bill, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 - have become acts after President Ram Nath Kovind signed them into law.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in his video interaction with a group of farmers from across the country, said, “The new farm laws will promote an East India company-like culture. This time, a West India company has come in. There is no difference between GST [Goods and Services Tax], noteban and these three laws. The only difference is that this is directly stabbing your heart with a knife. But I have clarity in my mind that these have to be opposed. Not for farmers, but for the future of India.”
The Congress has launched a nationwide agitation against the farm laws and Gandhi too is expected to join the famers’ protest in Punjab later this week.
West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee,too, hit out at the Centre saying that this legislation would devastate the farmers of the country and help the hoarders. “The farm laws will devastate the farmers of the country. It will only help the hoarders.”
Farmers, especially in Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against the legislation, which the government says will enable them to sell their produce in any market of their choice rather than limit them to government-run mandis called APMCs. The protestors say the Centre’s farm reforms could pave the way for the dismantling of the MSP system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big companies.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has walked out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the centre to protest against the farm legislation.