President Kovind gives his nod to all 3 farm bills, government notifies them
President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday gave his assent to all the three contentious farm bills, which opposition parties say are anti-farmer and corporate-friendly, after they were recently passed by Parliament during its monsoon session amid vehement protests.
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 now become acts.
The government, which has said that these landmark legislations will make farmers self-reliant, has notified them. More than a dozen opposition parties had urged President Kovind not to sign the contentious bills, alleging that they were passed “unconstitutionally” in “complete disregard” of parliamentary norms.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) even pulled out of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition at the Centre over the passage of the contentious farm bills, which the Punjab-based party said were “lethal and disastrous”. The SAD and the BJP had been allies since 1996 when both forged a pre-poll alliance ahead of the 1997 Punjab assembly elections which brought them to power.
Farmers, especially in Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against the bills and have said the Centre’s farm reforms would pave a way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big companies.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been trying to allay the fears of the farmers, saying that the country’s agriculture sector has unshackled itself after the passage of these bills. Farmers and the farm sector, Modi said, need to be strong to lay a strong foundation of “Atmanirbhar Bharat”.
“They have the power to sell their fruits or vegetables to anyone, and anywhere. It is this power which is the foundation of their growth, now the same power has been given to farmers across the country. They have got the freedom to sell not only fruits and vegetables but grains, sugarcane, mustard and anything that they grow, they can now sell to anyone and anywhere they like,” PM Modi said while addressing the 69th edition of his monthly ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio programme.
Several Union ministers, including defence Minister Rajnath Singh, have said said the Centre has taken the steps to ensure that farmers get the right price for their produce.
“Our government has taken steps to ensure that the farmers get the right price for their produce. I have studied the bills, and I am saying that the farmers will benefit from it. But some people are trying to mislead the farmers,” Singh said recently.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, seeks to give freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside the notified APMC market yards (mandis). The government says this is aimed at facilitating remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, seeks to give farmers the right to enter into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price. And the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, seeks to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onion, and potato from the list of essential commodities and will do away with the imposition of stock holding limits.
The Sukhbir Singh Badal-led SAD had asked the central government not to bring the bills in Parliament till “all reservations” expressed by farmers are “duly addressed”. But when the Centre did not pay heed, the SAD asked the government to send these farm bills to a select committee, which did not happen. SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal then resigned from the Union Cabinet in protest.