The Rajya Sabha on Sunday passed the contentious Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 amid high drama during the debate.
The Rajya Sabha had to be adjourned over the uproar in the house over the bills.
The session saw members of the Opposition raising slogans of ‘hai hai’ and asking the government to take back the bills. Reports said that MPs tried to tear copies of the farm bill, said reports.
TMC MP Derek O’Brien was among the MPs who rushed into the well of the house.
O Brien tweeted a video from the central hall of the Parliament saying, “They cheated. They broke every rule in Parliament. It was a historic day. In the worst sense of the word. They cut RSTV feed so the country couldn’t see. They censored RSTV. Don’t spread propaganda. We have evidence. But first watch this.”
PTI reported that TMC, other opposition members climbed the chairman’s podium after their demand for voting on motion to send farm bills to select panel not considered.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar introduced the bills in the Upper House of the Parliament even as they have come under criticism of the Opposition and activists.
NDTV reported Congress MP from Punjab Partap Singh Bajwa as saying, “We will not sign on this death warrant of farmers. Agriculture markets are a state subject. APMC and MSP should not be tinkered with.”
Former prime minister and JD(S) leader who took oath to the Rajya Sabha today asked, “PM should explain why there’s a hurry to pass the bills amid pandemic. He should explain what would farm bills do for farming community in short & long term and how it will help in achieving govt’s goal of doubling farmers’ income.”
While introducing the bill Tomar said that minimum price or MSP based procurement of agriculture crops from farmers will continue and is not related to the farm bills that seek to give cultivators freedom to market their produce.
The bills have faced staunch opposition from farmer bodies as well as from within the ruling coalition. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the food processing minister from the Shiromani Akali Dal party, resigned from the government over the bill.
“Don’t think that the farmers of Punjab are weak,” said Akali Dal’s Naresh Gujral, according to an NDTV report.
K K Ragesh (CPI), Derek O’Brien (TMC), Trichi Siva (DMK) and K C Venugopal (Congress) moved resolutions for sending the two bills to a select committee of the House for consideration before they are taken up for passage.
Speaking at the introduction, Tomar said the two bills are “historic and will bring a revolutionary change in farmer’s lives”.
They seek to remove restrictions on marketing farm products and allow cultivators to engage with private companies to sell their crops.
“Farmers will get the freedom to sell their produce at any place and person of their choice,” he said adding the bills were brought after feedback from stakeholders that the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) were not doing justice to farmers.
The bills seek to bring competition and ensure fair price to farmers, he said.
“There are misconceptions being spread about the minimum support price (MSP). MSP is the government’s administrative decision and not linked to the bills. MSP based procurement was there in the country, is there, and will continue,” he said.
Under MSP, the government guarantees the procurement of crops such as wheat and paddy at minimum prices from farmers.
Opposition parties as well as SAD feel the bills are the first step toward removing the MSP which will force the farmers to make distress sales to private companies.
(With PTI inputs)