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'Death Knell for Farming': A Former PM, 18 Parties Urge President Kovind to Not Sign Farm Bills

Opposition MPs protest in the well of the Rajya Sabha against the farm bills. (Twitter/@ANI)

Opposition MPs protest in the well of the Rajya Sabha against the farm bills. (Twitter/@ANI)

Leaders of various political parties, including the Congress, the Left parties, NCP, DMK, SP, Trinamool Congress and the RJD, have in a memorandum to the President sought his intervention in the matter and asked him not to sign the bills. Former prime minister HD Devegowda is also a signatory to the letter.

As many as 18 non-NDA parties have written to President Ram Nath Kovind over the manner in which the government "pushed through its agenda" to get the two contentious farm bills were passed by Rajya Sabha. The leaders urged the president not to grant his assent to the proposed legislations.

Leaders of various political parties, including the Congress, the Left parties, NCP, DMK, SP, Trinamool Congress and the RJD, have in a memorandum to the President sought his intervention in the matter and asked him not to sign the bills. Former prime minister HD Devegowda is also a signatory to the letter.

The bills will become a law only after the President grants his assent to them. The two key farm bills, dubbed by the government as the biggest reform in agriculture, were passed by Rajya Sabha on Sunday with voice vote amid unprecedented unruly scenes by protesting opposition MPs.

Some opposition members, ignoring the Covid-19 protocol, charged towards the podium of Deputy Chairman Harivansh, flung the rule book at him and tore official papers. They yanked his microphone and heckled him over their demand for a division of vote on their motion to refer the legislation to a select committee. Sources said the opposition parties have described the manner in which the bills were passed in Rajya Sabha on Sunday as "murder of democracy" by the ruling BJP. They have also sought time from the President for a meeting, likely on Tuesday.

The Shiromani Akali Dal leadership met President Ram Nath Kovind separately and urged him not to sign on the bills. Sources said the memorandum of opposition leaders has been sent to the President.

"A delegation of Shiromani Akali Dal met the president and requested him not to sign on 'anti-farmer' bills that have been forcefully passed in Rajya Sabha. We requested him to send back the bills to the Parliament," SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said. Congress MP and noted lawyer Abhishek Singhvi is learnt to have framed the memorandum.

The opposition leaders wish to present their case in urging the President not to grant his assent to the bill after both the Houses of Parliament passed the two bills. They are alleging that the bills are against the interest of farmers and seek to enslave farming at the hands of corporates. These will prove to be a "death knell" for farming, the opposition leaders claim.

The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 seeks to give freedom to farmers to sell their produce outside the notified APMC market yards (mandis). This, the government says, is aimed at facilitating remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels. Farmers will not be charged any cess or levy for sale of their produce under this Act, according to the government.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 seeks to give farmers the right to enter into a contract with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for the sale of future farming produce at a pre-agreed price. It seeks to transfer the risk of market unpredictability from farmers to sponsors.

(With PTI inputs)


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