Maharashtra Cabinet may discuss farm bill issue today
Ruling Congress and NCP have opposed the laws as “anti-farmer” and their implementation in the state, where they are part of the ruling Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra Vikas AghadiUpdated: Sep 30, 2020, 11:50 IST
Ruling Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) representatives are likely to raise the issue of the implementation of the newly-enacted farm laws at a Maharashtra Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, people aware of the matter said. The parties have opposed the laws as “anti-farmer” and their implementation in the state, where they are part of the ruling Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi.
The Maharashtra government is yet to take a decision over implementing the laws. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday advised the states ruled by her party to explore the possibilities of legislation under the Constitution’s Article 254(2) to negate the “anti-agricultural laws” and to prevent the “grave injustice” being done to farmers.
The Congress is in power in Rajasthan, Punjab and Chhattisgarh, and Puducherry. It is part of coalition governments in Maharashtra and Jharkhand.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government pushed three farm bills to deregulate agricultural trade. They were passed controversially in Parliament, overriding demands for greater scrutiny and voting.
Big farmers’ groups are protesting against the laws saying the deregulation will leave them vulnerable to powerful agribusinesses and in a weaker negotiating position than before.
Maharashtra had issued orders in August to implement the ordinances that preceded the laws.
State minister and NCP leader Balasaheb Patil said a discussion is on over rescinding the orders. “We are with the farmers and a decision will be taken accordingly,” said Patil.
The state Cabinet can take a decision in this regard. “It has to be a Cabinet resolution because it has become a constitutional issue now. Though agriculture is a state subject, according to entry 33 in the concurrent list, the Centre has the right to bring in legislation related to trade and commerce of agriculture produce,” said an official, requesting anonymity. “Also, if there is a law of the Centre and the state on a subject and there is conflict over a provision, then the central act will prevail, according to the constitutional experts. Hence, it has become a challenge as to how to stop the implementation of the central laws.”
Deputy chief minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar last week said the farm laws will not be implemented. Revenue minister and Congress Balasaheb Thorat said all the ruling parties are against the laws and the decision on not implementing them in the state will be taken collectively after due deliberation.
The Congress has organised #SpeakUpForFarmers on social media to garner support against the laws. It also held a virtual farmer rally and gathered signatures from 10 million farmers opposing the laws. A delegation of Congress leaders met governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari demanding the withdrawal of the legislation.