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Published On: Sun, Sep 27th, 2020

Despite Protests & Oppn’s Request, Prez Gives Nod to Farm Bills

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farmNEW DELHI : Despite uproar in Parliament and large-scale protests by farmers, President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday gave his approval to all three controversial farm bills became laws today. The President’s assent to these bills comes amid the Opposition criticising the manner in which they were passed in Parliament.
The opposition had requested the President not to sign the bills  which would have sent them back to parliament for reconsideration after two of the bills were passed in Rajya Sabha last week amid uproar.
The opposition has alleged that the bills were pushed through voice vote in violation of the rules. The government, it said, lacked the numbers, which would have become clear if a physical voting was held. They also accused Deputy Chairman Harivansh Singh, who was presiding over the proceedings, of colluding with the government.
The three bills are Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020.
Parliament had recently passed the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020. They were awaiting presidential assent.
Soon after the president’s assent to the bills, the Maharashtra government announced that it won’t implement the “anti-farmers” law in the state. “The Bills passed by Parliament are anti-farmers. So we’re opposing it. Maha Vikas Aghadi will also oppose it and not implement it in Maharashtra.

Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD), who formally broke ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA a day earlier, announced a ‘Kisan March’ on October 1. “Kisan March will begin on October 1 from the three Takhts and go to Mohali.  Sukhbir Singh Badal said minutes before the president’s approval came.
Later, he said it is sad to see that president failed to pay heed to farmers’ cries. “Extremely sad that @rashtrapatibhvn refused to heed farmers. Dark day for democracy & farmers,” Badal tweeted.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh termed the move as “unfortunate and distressing”. He said that his government is exploring all options, including possible amendments to the state laws, to protect the interests of the farmers.

Kovind’s nod to the farm bills comes days after Opposition parties met him and requested him to withhold his approval to the Centre’s contentious farm bills. They had also boycotted Parliament in protest against the way the Centre passed the bills.
Congress MP and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the bills had been passed in an unconstitutional manner. “There was no division of votes, no voice voting,” he said. “Constitutional procedures were flouted in the temple of democracy.”The members of Opposition parties protested against the bills and called it a “murder of democracy”.
Farmers under the banner of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee have also been protesting on the rail track near Devidaspura village in Amritsar since September 24. Sitting on the rail track, the bare-chested protesters shouted slogans against the BJP-led central government on Saturday and demanded that the farm bills be withdrawn.
The committee had announced on Friday to extend its three-day ‘rail roko’ agitation from September 26 till September 29. The ‘rail roko’ agitation had started on Thursday, forcing the railway authorities to suspend the operation of special passenger trains in the state.
Farmers, however, are apprehensive about dealing directly with corporate. They fear that they will not be paid even the Minimum Support Price fixed by the government and be exploited. Calling the new system “anti-farmer”, they have demanded that the laws be repealed.
The Centre, however, defended the passage of the farm bills and accused the opposition parties including Congress of doing politics. Flagging them as “historic” reforms in the agri sector, the Centre has said it would help the country’s farmers proceed into the 21st Century, helping them get better price for produce.
Mr Harivans Narayan Singh and the government have said the opposition demands for physical voting were negated as the members were not in their seats while making the demand.

Television footage of the Rajya Sabha proceedings of September 20, however, showed something else. The footage shows that at least two of the three MPs  KK Ragesh and Trichy Siva who moved the motion to send the controversial bills to a select committee, were in their seats when they demanded a division of votes.
On Friday, massive protests were held across the two states. Farmers from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and even the southern state of Karnataka had also joined in. The Shiromani Akali Dal, which first quit the government and then the NDA over the new laws, said they plan to hit the roads with a tractor rally on October 1.
In his monthly ‘Mann Ki Baat’ broadcast on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that a large number of peasants have benefitted since fruits and vegetables were brought out of the APMC Act in some states a few years ago and asserted that grain-producing farmers will now have the same freedom.






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