New Delhi: A bill to repeal the three contentious agricultural laws against which farmers have been protesting for over a year was passed within minutes of its introduction by the Lok Sabha on Monday, without discussion.
Soon after the House reassembled at noon after a brief adjournment on the first day of the Winter Session, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar introduced the Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021, through which the government wants to scrap the three laws which were passed by Parliament in September last year.
The three laws were brought with an objective to bring reforms in the agriculture sector, especially marketing of farm produce. The opposition came to the well of the House demanding a debate on the bill and raised slogans and banners.
Speaker Om Birla said he was ready to allow discussion on the bill provided the protesting MPs go back to their seats and there is order in the House.
“You want debate, I am ready to allow debate when there is order in the House. But if you come to the well, how can there be a debate,” he said, asking the members to take their seats.
Birla said discussion is not possible when the MPs were standing in the well holding placards. However, the opposition did not pay heed to the Speaker’s appeal and continued their protests.
Congress leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said since the bill is listed for consideration and passage then why is there no discussion. He accused the government of taking the House for a ride.
As the turmoil continued, the Speaker took a voice vote and declared the bill passed. Subsequently, he adjourned the House till 2 pm.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced on November 19 that the three farm legislations will be repealed. The three laws are Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.
The TRS, DMK and TMC were in the well during the passage of the bill. TRS MPs were holding placards demanding a uniform procurement policy and a National Food Grain Procurement Policy. DMK and TMC MPs entered the well demanding discussion on repeal of the three farm laws.
The MPs from the Congress, NCP, BSP and IUML were protesting while standing at their respective seats.
Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Dharmendra Pradhan, Smriti Irani, Bhupender Yadav, Ashwini Vaishnaw and a host of other ministers were present in the House.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah were also present.
While addressing the nation, PM Modi had said the Centre could not convince the protesting farmers about the benefits of these laws and urged them to end their protest.
The repeal of these three legislations has been one of the key demands of around 40 farmer unions protesting against these reforms for nearly a year now at various Delhi border points.
These laws, which are under suspension following a Supreme Court order in January this year, had triggered widespread protests by thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, at Delhi borders.
The protest, which started in November 2020, is still continuing.
On November 21, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) — the joint body of farmer unions leading the current protests — had written to the prime minister to immediately resume talks on the farmers’ six demands, including legal guarantee for procurement of crops at MSP.
The other demands were sacking and arrest of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra in connection with the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, withdrawal of cases against farmers and building of a memorial for those who lost their lives during the agitation.
They also sought removal of penal provisions on farmers in the ‘Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Act 2021’ and withdrawal of the draft ‘Electricity Amendments Bill, 2020/2021’ proposed by the government.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act is aimed at giving freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside the mandis.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act is to provide cultivators the right to enter into a contract with agri-business firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price.
The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act was implemented to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onion, and potatoes from the list of essential commodities and also do away with the imposition of stock holding limits on such items, except under ‘extraordinary circumstances’.
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