Farm bills get Rajya Sabha nod amid ‘irresponsible’ act of Opposition

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha wrote itself to history on Sept 20, 2020 while passing the contentious farm Bills but not before Trinamool Congress put the House of Elders into shame.

The vocal member and Trinamool floor leader Derek O’ Brien tore the Rule Book and insulted Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh.

Consequently, many people said such conduct was not expected from a well informed lawmaker.

O’ Brien is a former Quiz Master of repute and thus a remark went around was — in days to come, youngsters could be quizzed: “Which Trinamool Congress lawmaker tore the Rule Book in Rajya Sabha in September 2020?”
And the answer would be – a former Quiz Master and Trinamool floor leader Derek- O’ Brien.

BJP president J P Nadda, also a Rajya Sabha member, said – “The irresponsible act of opposition is unfortunate.They violated the protocols, Chairman will take note of it and take action”.

He said, the democratic system should function smoothly. “We will request the Chairman (Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu) to take steps for the same”.

The BJP chief said the agrarian Bills are part of the reform strategies and would liberate the farmers from injustice they were facing for the last 70 years.

“Opposition parties are anti-farmers. Instead of being part of the process, they tried to obstruct the liberation of farmers,” Mr Nadda said.

The government has categorically said the Bills would only help the farm community.

Speaking about the Bills, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the Government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken several landmark decisions in the last six years to ensure that farmers get remunerative prices for their produce, and for raising farmers’ incomes and livelihood status.

He again clarified that the procurement at Minimum Support Price will continue.

The government has clarified that the new laws will create an ecosystem where the farmers and traders will enjoy freedom of choice of sale and purchase of agri-produce. These will also promote barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade and commerce outside the physical premises of markets notified under State Agricultural Produce Marketing legislations.

The farmers will not be charged any cess or levy for sale of their produce and will not have to bear transport costs.

The Bill also proposes an electronic trading in transaction platform for ensuring a seamless trade electronically.

In addition to mandis, freedom to do trading at farmgate, cold storage, warehouse, processing units etc. Farmers will be able to engage in direct marketing thereby eliminating intermediaries resulting in full realization of price.

Some doubts have been raised like, whether the procurement at Minimum Support Price will stop, if farm produce is sold outside APMC mandis, these will stop functioning and what will be the future of government electronic trading
portal like e-NAM.

The official clarification has been that the procurement at Minimum Support Price will continue and the farmers can sell their produce at MSP rates. The MSP for Rabi season will be announced next week

Mandis will not stop functioning, trading will continue here as before. Under the new system, farmers will have the option to sell their produce at other places in addition to the mandis. The e-NAM trading system will also continue in the mandis

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar also flayed the opposition parties and said the Congress party has gone back on its own election manifesto.”Yeh thukna bhi, chatna bhi hai (This is like eating your own words and taking back what one gives out. It is very unbecoming),” Tomar told reporters within minutes the high drama in the House.

Earlier, during the debate several opposition members said the government is trying to convince the opposition and the country something (qualitative values of the farm Bills) though it could not do so with its own member of the cabinet. This was in reference to the resignation of Akali Dal leader and Food Processing Industry Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

On September 17 – incidentally on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday – Ms Badal staged walkout in Lok Sabhaand quit the ministry.The following day, of course, the Prime Minister strongly defended government’s measures and said “These Bills are like Raksha Kawach (protective shields)….These reforms will give farmers a new freedom to sell their produce and also give them a series of new ‘vikalps’ alternatives”. The move to ensure direct sale of agricultural produce has left middlemen and commission agents irked.

Amid chaos in the House, the bills were passed by voice vote. 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 that have already been passed by Lok Sabha.

K C Venugopal (Congress), K K Ragesh (CPI-M), Derek O’Brien (Trinamool) and Trichi Siva (DMK) moved resolutions for sending two bills to a select committee of the House for consideration before they are taken up for passage. During the debate, Partap Singh Bajwa, who is from protest-hit Punjab, said, “Those whom you want to benefit are on the streets”.

Bhupender Yadav of BJP said the Congress party was doing politics and misleading farmers.

About the Author:

Nirendra Dev is senior Journalist. He is a longtime northeast watcher and author of books including ‘The Talking Guns: North East India’ and ‘Modi to Moditva: An Uncensored Truth’.