Contentious farm bill passed in Karnataka with support from JDS
Even as farmers are agitating across the country against several legislations related to the sector, the BJP-led government in Karnataka has managed to pass a contentious farm bill with the help of the regional Janata Dal (Secular) in the upper house. The amendments to the Karnataka Land Reforms Act of 1961, which had not been cleared in the previous legislative council session, have now been passed.
During the monsoon session, the government, which had passed the bill in the assembly where it enjoys a comfortable majority, had failed to introduce it fearing defeat as it is in a minority in the upper house. Even after the recent victory in four teachers and graduates constituency, the BJP has only 31 members in the 75-member Karnataka legislative council.
The amendments allow non-agriculturists to buy agricultural land. The bill amended sections 79 (A), 79 (B) and 79 (C) of the 1961 act. Earlier, there was an income limit on who could buy agricultural land, the profession of the purchaser and penalty for wrong information. With the amendments, everybody is now eligible to purchase agricultural land.
Even as the Congress demanded a division in votes, the government sailed through with the help of the JDS with 37 voting in favour and 21 against with several council members including nine from the Congress being absent. The JDS’ move surprised many as earlier, on the day, some of its leaders had supported the farmers’ stir against the government.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) is planning a massive demonstration starting tomorrow with the organisation saying thousands of farmers will lay siege to Vidhana Soudha - the seat of power in the state. The KRRS is demanding that various ‘anti-farmer’ legislations at both the Centre and state be withdrawn.