Ruling partners Congress, NCP say they will not implement farm bills in MaharashtraUpdated: Sep 26, 2020, 01:07 IST
Two ruling parties in the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi-led government — the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) — announced that they will not implement the farm laws in Maharashtra which were passed in Parliament early this week.
Deputy chief minister (DyCM) and NCP leader Ajit Pawar said the farm bills, as well as the labour bills, will not be implemented in Maharashtra. State revenue minister and Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat said that all ruling parties are against the newly-enacted laws and the decision of not implementing them in the state will be taken collectively after due deliberation.
The Congress and NCP supported the nationwide protest by farmers to oppose the three farm bills passed by Parliament early this week. Various farmer organisations including Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, Lok Sangharsh Morcha held marches, blocked highways, burnt copies of the bills and formed human chains in at least 21 districts in Maharashtra on Friday in opposition of the bills. The farmer organisations have announced plans to intensify their protests if the bills are not withdrawn by the Central government. The third ruling party in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena is yet to clear its stand on the issue, though it has been criticising the Central government over the bills.
While speaking in Pune on Friday, Pawar said that not only the farm bills but even the amendment in labour laws passed in Parliament early this week, will not be implemented in Maharashtra. “These bills were passed in haste. We are studying the legalities of the bills and will take a call to not implement them in the state,” he said. His cabinet colleague and state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat said that all the ruling parties are against the anti-farmer laws. “We have been opposing them tooth and nail. We will discuss the laws to take steps against their implementation in the state,” he said.
Shiv Sena, the prime ally in the MVA government in Maharashtra has not yet clarified its stand on the bills. The party had invited criticism by Maharashtra BJP leaders for its “hypocritical stance” for supporting bills in the Lok Sabha and walking out of the vote in the Rajya Sabha. “The issue will be discussed in the coordination committee of the three parties. Our stand this time was similar to the one taken during the CAA debate in the Parliament early this year. But on farm issues, we would not support the bills and their implementation in Maharashtra. The stand will be clarified in due course,” said a Sena functionary, requesting anonymity.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana led by former MP Raju Shetti burnt copies of the bills in Kolhapur.
“Shetkari Sanghatana has always been against the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) and our leader, the late Sharad Joshi used to call these committees ‘abattoirs’ of farmers. However, we do not endorse the way the existing system of farm produce marketing is being thrashed out by the Central government. This is nothing but an attempt to make farmers slaves in the hands of industrialists,” Shetti said. He described it as a step towards privatisation of the Food Corporation of India and National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (Nafed), which purchase about 30% of the farm produce.
Ajit Nawale, general secretary, ABKS said that protests were held in 21 districts of the state by farmers. “At least the farmers have some mechanism in place to market their produce at a reasonable price in the form of APMCs today. The bills passed in Parliament are the first step towards handing over farm marketing to a few industrial houses that will decide the prices of the produce. Though the Centre has been claiming these bills are a way to free farmers from the clutches of APMCs, the government has freed itself from the responsibilities of fair and remunerative prices to farmers. In Maharashtra, the Fadnavis government had brought bills to regularise APMCs, but it could not set up an alternative mechanism to the APMCs to give farmers remunerative prices for their produce. It was a failed attempt,” he said.
Farmers from Thane, Palghar, Nashik held ‘rasta roko’ protests on national highways including Mumbai-Jaipur-Delhi disrupting the traffic for some time.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Congress announced a programme to be implemented over the next five weeks to oppose the farm bills. The party has announced plans to organise a drive on social media to garner support against the bills, virtual farmer rallies and to gather signatures from 1 crore farmers opposing the bills.
Senior Congress leader HK Patil, who was recently appointed as Maharasthra Congress in-charge, said in a press conference in Mumbai, “Under pressure from big industries, the [Narendra] Modi government passed the farm and labour bills which will uproot and destroy farmers and workers in the country. The bills will bring back the feudal zamindari system in the country. The laws should be immediately repealed.”