'Obituary of India's Farmers': How MPs Reacted as Political Heat Rose in Rajya Sabha Over Farm Bills
File photo of proceedings in the Rajya Sabha. (PTI)
Rajya Sabha passed three contentious farm bills on Sunday amid massive uproar by opposition members in Parliament, even as farmers in several parts of the country staged protests against legislations. The upper House witnessed a bedlam when some opposition members led by the TMC climbed on to the chairman's podium as the government pushed for the passage of two contentious farm bills. Ruckus prevailed after Deputy Chairman Harivansh overruled opposition pleas for postponing Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar's reply to the debate on the two bills till Monday as the scheduled sitting time of the House was over.
Earlier, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad demanded that reply to the debate on the two bills be postponed for tomorrow as the scheduled time for sitting on Sunday was over. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar introduced the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 in Rajya Sabha earlier today.
Here's a list of reaction of political leaders from across parties on the farm bill:
PM Narendra Modi
"I said it earlier and I say it once again: System of MSP will remain. Government procurement will continue. We are here to serve our farmers. We will do everything possible to support them and ensure a better life for their coming generations. These bills will add impetus to the efforts to double income of farmers and ensure greater prosperity for them, PM Modi said.
"Every political party has to take a stand is it with the farmers or is it with the BJP threatening the livelihood of farmers," Chidambaram said. "Farmers need multiple accessible markets and choice. The Congress' proposals would have given them that. Once that is accomplished, the Congress manifesto promise on repealing the APMC Act and making trade in agricultural produce free would be a natural sequel in course of time," he said. "While our promise is clear, the Modi government has surrendered to the corporates and traders," the Congress leader alleged.
"Can the Government assure the country that after the passing of the agriculture reform Bills, farmers' income will double and no farmer will commit suicide?....A special session should be called to discuss these Bills," said Sanjay Raut of Shiv Sena, according to NDTV.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hailed the passage of two big ticket farm bills and called it a "landmark day" for farmers. "With the passing of two landmark agriculture Bills in Rajya Sabha today, India has cemented the strong foundation for Atmanirbhar Agriculture'," the defence minister tweeted. "This is the result of endless dedication and determination of the Govt under the leadership of PM Modi."
RJD MP Manoj Jha said, "I am appealing all the parties to rise beyond their party lines. You have to decide if you want to remain with your party or with the farmers." He said that the government is working with ego and added that the bill once passed would become the obituary of the country's farmers.
HD Deve Gowda
Former PM HD Deve Gowda asked Modi to explain the short- and long-term impact of the bills on farmers. "The prime minister should explain why there is a hurry to pass the bills amid the pandemic, he said. Modi should explain how it will help in achieving the governments goal of doubling farmers income," he said.
K Keshava Rao
K Keshava Rao of the TRS said the Agriculture Minister claimed that this is a Bill for new-age agriculture, but was against it. Alleging that this bill seeks to change the very character of the country, he said, "you have made an agricultural country into a corporate country".
"Parliament has cleared bills to reform agriculture sector. Farmers are now free to choose where and at what price they would sell their products. Farmers were demanding this for decades. MSP shall continue. APMCs (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) remain," Nirmala Sitharaman said in a tweet.
CM Arvind Kejriwal
Earlier, CM Kejriwal had said his party will vote against the three bills and termed them "anti-farmer".
"Farmers all over the country are watching the Rajya Sabha today. The BJP is in minority in the Rajya Sabha. I appeal to all the non-BJP parties to defeat these bills, this is what farmers in the country wish," Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) member Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Thursday resigned from the Union Cabinet in protest against three farm sectors bills. "I have resigned from the Union Cabinet in protest against anti-farmer ordinances and legislation. Proud to stand with farmers as their daughter and sister," she tweeted, barely hours before the bills were passed by Lok Sabha.
MP Prem Singh Chandumajra
SAD leader and MP Prem Singh Chandumajra said, "It is unfortunate that even after we expressed our concerns to the BJP and conveyed the sentiments of the farming community to its central leadership, it did not address the issue." "We, however, will not fail in our duty towards farmers and will continue to strive to ensure justice for them and Punjab," he said.
Ram Chandra Prasad Singh
Ram Chandra Prasad Singh of the JD(U), while supporting the bills, said it is for the first time that a farmers' policy has come after a long time. He said in 1991 when the country saw liberalisation, it missed bringing agriculture reforms. He cited the example of Bihar where the Nitish Kumar government has abolished the APMC Act in 2006 and yet farmers are getting good price for their produce through MSP and farmers are producing more.