The Opposition underlined its concerns over the likelihood of Minimum Support Price for crops being done away with, corporate houses taking over agriculture and the fear of contract farming affecting the small and marginal farmers. Many parties also emphasised that agriculture is a state subject and the Centre should not legislate on it without wider consultations.
Most Opposition parties pressed for sending the two Bills to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha and had moved resolutions for the same.
NDA still does not have a majority in the 244 member Rajya Sabha and has to bank on parties like BJD, TRS, AIADMK and even BSP, along with smaller parties, to muster the support for crucial Bills. These parties expressed their opposition to the Bill which was passed without division despite the Opposition demanding it.
Introducing the Bills, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar described them as “historic” and claimed they will bring a revolutionary change in the life of farmers as they will have the freedom to sell their produce at best prices. He underlined that the Bill is not related to the MSP issue and assured the House that the government will continue to pay it to the farmers.
During the debate, Congress refuted the government charge that a free market for farmers to sell their produce was a stand taken by the Manmohan Singh government. Ahmed Patel said the BJP members are not reading the complete Congress manifesto which had put five points to safeguard the interests of the farmers. His party colleague Shaktisinh Gohil demanded that the government put the MSP promise in the Bill itself and state that not paying it would be forgery and a criminal offence.
Gohil also took digs at the government for failing to convince its cabinet minister (SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal) on the issue and asked how it expected to convert others.
Government found itself in a rough spot as even parties like BJD, AIADMK and TRS which often extend issue-based support to it, expressed their opposition to the farm Bills. These parties suggested along with the Opposition that the Bills be sent to a Select Committee.
BJD member Amar Patnaik pointed out several anomalies in the Bills. He said the legislations will indirectly bring intermediaries in the sale of crop produce. He said 63 per cent of the farmers are small and marginal and use more than 80 per cent of the fields under cultivation. He said the Bills will create possibilities of cartelisation. He batted for farmer insurance and maintained the new system will affect improvement of infrastructure like storage facility for small farmers.
AIADMK member SR Balasubramoniyan questioned the “exigency and emergency” that prompted the government to come out with the two Ordinances and the Bills. “Farmers will be at the mercy of corporates,” he said. He sought to know why the Bill is silent on the issue of MSP and feared the states will be reduced to “mute spectators”. He demanded that a Central Regulatory Authority be set up.
TRS member K Keshav Rao said he is speaking “with a sense of anguish” at the Bills being introduced and said the country will move from one of farmers to that of corporates. He refuted the claim of some BJP members that they have a right to bring these Bills as they have a mandate from the people, saying the state government have that too.
He rued that the states were not consulted on the Bills and maintained this is a “direct, brutal assault on state rights”. Farmers will be turned into landless labourers, he said.
However, YSRCP supported the Bill as did TMC (M) and BPF. NDA partners, barring SAD, backed the Bill.
Naresh Gujral (SAD) said the Bill should be sent to a Select Committee. “Don’t let the spark in Punjab and Haryana turn into a big fire across the country,” he warned.
Download The Economic Times News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.
10 Comments on this Story
Santimay Basu166 days ago
Opposition knew that it cannot stall the passage of the bills and adopted "goonda-giri" in RS. They need to be taken into task. Tax-payers money as Salary and pension is not meant for the hooligans. The politicians whose family members and friends are working as middlemen and controlling the mandis will be sole losers. Government had already promulgated ordinance on these issues long back. But there was no adverse reaction. Why such goonda-giri now when the ordinance was being replaced by passage of bills.
Dm Bhanap166 days ago
Small and marginal farmers can form co-operatives or societies to gain bargaining power to prevent middlemen agents brokers to take advantage of their weakness to stand alone and helpless.
Kinnu 166 days ago
Going forward government should form farmer consolidated farming syndicates who will do collective farming when fifty or hundred farmers come to gather and form one group then they do do lots of negotiations regarding price where to sell their produce to whom etc. today small farmers have one acre of land there is nothing he can dictate. Most important point is politicians should be kept out of these syndicates they are money looters and frauds of the highest order. Opposition is making noise because they will loose their percentage all middle men are goons of politicians. Take for example mention onion or sugarcane Pawar will start dancing.