CHANDIGARH:Even as he led the State Assembly in seeking unconditional withdrawal of the Farm Laws, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday asked 10 questions from the nation to expose the true intent of the Centre behind the legislations, which he said were unacceptable to the farmers and the state under any circumstances.
He also appealed to the Government of India to withdraw all cases and notices against the agitating farmers to build a congenial environment for an amicable solution.
Introducing a resolution calling for repeal of the Farm Laws by the Centre, the Chief Minister declared in the Vidhan Sabha that these laws cannot be accepted and allowed to remain on the statute book to the detriment of the farmers, as not only are they against the principles of cooperative federalism but their objectives are apparently preposterous.
The Resolution, which was later passed unanimously by those present in the House, expressed the angst of the members against the “inconsiderate and unresponsive attitude” of the Government of India, which has aggravated the situation and enhanced unrest and anguish amongst the farmers. It demanded the unconditional withdrawal of the Farm Laws in the interest of the farmers and the State, and to continue with the existing system of MSP-based government procurement of food grains.
While SAD MLAs were suspended by the Speaker over unruly behaviour while the Chief Minister was speaking on the issue, AAP members had staged a walk-out before it was put to vote.
Ostensibly, these laws are aimed to achieve the objective of doubling the income of farmers, but it does not appear to be so, Captain Amarinder said while tabling the Resolution, pointing out that the farmers consider these a threat to their livelihood, and as a result, they started agitation against these laws, demanding that these may be withdrawn. Pointing out that his government had right from the beginning, since 5th June 2020 when the three Ordinances on the issue were promulgated by the Centre, had opposed the laws, he termed as unfortunate the fact that the three Bills passed unanimously by Punjab Assembly to counter the ill-effects of the Farm Laws had still not been grated the Presidential assent required to enforce them under Article 254 (2) of the Constitution of India has still not been granted.
Underlining the need to immediately repeal the central Farm Laws, the Chief Minister raised 10 vital questions to the nation, exposing the lacunae that make the legislations unacceptable under any circumstances. He went on to ask:
1. Who benefits from completely Unregulated Private Mandis?
2. Who benefits from 100% waiver of Mandi Fees, Cess, and taxes in a Private Mandi?
3. Who benefits by debarring Government Officials from offering MSP to farmers in a Private Mandi?
4. Who benefits when we abolish the institution of Arhtiyas, who are mandated by law to provide Mandi Services of cleaning of grains, unloading and loading of bags and stitching of bags strictly at rates fixed by the Government?
5. Who benefits when Mandi Fees/charges, currently mandated to be paid by the purchaser, are deregulated with a liberty to charge these from the farmers?
6. Who benefits when Private Mandis are given a liberty to fix services charges for any activity undertaken in such a Mandi?
7. Who benefits when farmers are debarred from approaching civil courts for any dispute related to an Agreement signed with the Corporates?
8. Who benefits when the Government is rendered ineligible to intervene into any dispute between the farmer and a corporate?
9. Who benefits when Stock Limits on storage of food grains by private persons/corporates are abolished?
10. Who benefits when the specifications of seeds and fertilizers are totally deregulated and the Government is rendered ineligible to specify any parameters for them?
Though nobody dares speak out aloud, the response to these questions is clear, said the Chief Minister, adding that his government was fully conscious that the Government of India” has no choice but to withdraw these legislations, and allow the time-tested existing agriculture marketing systems to continue, ensuring socio-economic security of the farmers and farm workers.”
“This House regrets to note that the Government of India has neither resolved the present crisis emanating from the agitation of farmers against the new farm laws namely, (a) The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; (b) The Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and (c) The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, nor have they conveyed assent of Hon’ble President under Article 254 (2) of the Constitution to the three amendment bills namely, (a) the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020; (b) the Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020; the Essential Commodities (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020; and ‘The Code of Civil Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020, passed on 20th October 2020. Copies of the State Amendment Bills are attached.
“This inconsiderate and unresponsive attitude has aggravated the situation and enhanced unrest and anguish amongst the farmers, who have been continuing with their peaceful agitation against the new Central farm laws. In the process, not only the livelihood of a large number of farmers, and farmworkers have been adversely affected, but substantial loss has also been caused to trade, business, and industry in the State. Even the precious human lives of 125 farmers and farmworkers have so far been lost. As a consequence of the unfair and unjust attitude of the Government of India, the farmers are persisting with their demand to repeal these new Central laws.
The House resolves to once again urge upon the Government of India to withdraw these laws unconditionally in the larger interest of the farmers, and the State and continue with the existing system of MSP-based government procurement of food grains.”