Modi government’s bills on farm sector: Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi parties yet to decide its stand; Left outfits to protest against Centre’s moveUpdated: Sep 21, 2020, 00:36 IST
Even as the Maharashtra unit of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has planned a protest on September 25 against the three agriculture sector bills passed by the Centre in the Parliament, the ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) is yet to decide their stand on the issue. The three parties have not discussed any plan so far to stage any agitation together to oppose the ordinances.
The three central ordinances, which would bring far-reaching impacts in the sector, led to large-scale protests by farmer groups in Punjab and Haryana. AIKS general secretary Ajit Nawale announced that the organisation will hold protest across Maharashtra. He added that the protest has the support of 208 other farmer bodies.
The passing of the ordinances in the Parliament yet again revealed the lack of coordination between the Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress – the ruling partners in Maharashtra.
While the Congress opposed the three ordinances, NCP did not support or oppose the bills openly but demanded that the Centre build consensus on the issue across the country. The Shiv Sena committed a flip flop as its Lok Sabha member Arvind Sawant “welcomed” the ordinance in the lower house but Rajya Sabha parliamentarian Sanjay Raut, took a critical view of the bill. The change in stance came after Sena chief and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar spoke on Saturday evening.
Speaking to HT, Raut said, “Sharad Pawar is a tall leader in India and was the country’s agriculture minister for 10 years. They [the Centre] should have involved him [in discussions]. These bills, according to him [Pawar] are in favour of the farmers. However, there are some points that need discussion. There is no point in opposing without any reason. The Shiv Sena and NCP have a neutral stand on these bills.”
“[All India] Kisan Sabha’s protest is fine, but most of Maharashtra’s farmer bodies have welcomed the reforms,” Raut added when asked on the protests by the Left-affiliated farmers’ body.
Raut also dismissed speculations over the lack of coordination within the MVA. He said that the change in Sena’s stance on the ordinance came after former Union minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned from the cabinet in protest of the bills.
State NCP spokesperson and minority affairs minister Nawab Malik said that the central government is “anti-farmer” as it wants a few corporate houses to control the agriculture sector through the ordinances.
“MSP guarantees minimum remuneration for farmers’ produce. Once it is abolished, farmers can be exploited easily. This will further result in the elimination of APMC markets in due course of time because these markets will start losing business. After a point of time, it will become financially unviable to run them,” Malik said. Minimum Support Prices (MSP) is a guarantee for the farmers to get minimum remuneration for their produce, which has been struck down in the new laws.
“The Centre’s plan is to eliminate the farmers’ network. It is also like giving licence for illegal hoarding to a few big players, who will control the market as well as its prices. The prices of commodities will be inflated as per their whims and fancies. In a way, it is not only harmful for the farmers but also for the consumers as they will also be looted,” he added.
Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said the party will decide its stand soon. Congress chief ministers Amarinder Singh (Punjab) and Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh) are opposed to the provisions of the bill which was passed in the Rajya Sabha by a voice vote amid protests by Opposition parties on Sunday.
With two sets of Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) legislations that delinked the sale of vegetables and fruits only in mandis (markets) and recently opened up the sale of all agricultural goods, Maharashtra is unlikely to be impacted by the central ordinance. The state government has already amended laws to allow farmers to sell directly without going to APMC. The bulk buyers can also directly procure the products from farmers. However, the scale of procurement by such buyers is much less.