Farm laws opposed by Congress-NCP present new dilemma for Uddhav Thackeray
The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government iappears to be in dilemma over the implementation of the contentious farms laws passed recently by the Parliament.
The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party have opposed implementation of the three laws in the state, calling them anti-farmer. Deputy chief minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar announced last week that the state government would not implement the farm laws in the state. Revenue minister and state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat has claimed that all the three ruling parties have opposed the bills and the issue will be discussed in a coordination meeting to stop implementation of the bills.
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray hasn’t made a public comment on the row over the farm laws in recent days. But his government did issue a circular in August directing local authorities to implement in letter and spirit the ordinance that preceded the legislation passed by Parliament.
Shiv Sena, which did not oppose the bills in Parliament, has not come clean on its stands on the bills.
The Sena had supported the bills in Lok Sabha and walked out of the vote in Rajya Sabha. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had even congratulated the Centre during a review meeting by the Union agriculture ministry a few weeks ago.
A Shiv Sena leader said the issue would be sorted out soon. “It will be discussed in a coordination meeting of the three ruling parties. Our stance on the bills will be cleared soon,” the Sena functionary said..
On Monday, Congress president Sonia Gandhi asked all Congress-ruled states to explore the possibility of enacting legislation under Article 254(2) of the Constitution to negate the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government’s “anti-agricultural laws” and prevent “grave injustice” from being done to farmers.
A senior Congress leader in Maharashtra said they were holding consultations within the party and with their alliance partners on the next steps. “We are consulting on the matter with the law and judicial department seeking legal opinion. It will be discussed in a coordination meeting of ruling parties,” said a Congress leader.
The Centre had issued three ordinances in June this year, replacing them with three bills - Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Service Bill, 2020, and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 - which were passed by the Parliament last week.
Maharashtra marketing director Satish Soni had issued a circular on the basis of the ordinances on August 10 that asked district authorities and departments to implement the ordinances in letter and spirit.
“As per the provisions in the ordinances, the farmers are free to market his produce at field, factory, warehouse or cold storage without any hindrance and without any market fee applicable under APMC Act. Any other fee or charges applicable under APMC Act cannot be charged now as per the provisions made in the ordinances. The law and judiciary department has vetted the ordinances and validated its applicability. Though the existence of the APMCs has not been affected by promulgation of the ordinance, the farmers will have a parallel mechanism to get fair prices for their produce. The market committees are expected to implement the provisions in the ordinances effectively,” the circular states.