AS IT tries to mobilise support from farmers across India over its opposition to the contentious farm bills of the Narendra Modi government, the Congress on Tuesday reached out to the Shiv Sena and the NCP, its partners in the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition in Maharashtra.
“Both the parties should keep party politics aside and join us in opposing the bills,” state Congress president Balasaheb Thorat said while terming the contentious legislation as “anti-farmer”.
The Congress on Monday had announced an all-India stir against the legislation from September 24 onwards. The protest has been planned a day before the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, which has the support of the Left parties, holds a nationwide protest.
On Sunday, two contentious legislations — Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, and Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 — were cleared by voice vote in the Rajya Sabha (RS) amid a protest by the Opposition members.
During the RS proceedings, the MVA partners interestingly had adopted “different stances”. While the Congress was consistent in its vocal opposition to the passage of these bills, earlier cleared by the Lok Sabha where the BJP enjoys a clear majority, the Shiv Sena staged a walkout in the RS. While NCP MP Supriya Sule had opposed the bills in Lok Sabha, the Sharad Pawar-led party staged a walkout on the voice vote in the Upper House.
Congress’s unease over the ally’s stance was evident with former chief minister Ashok Chavan publicly advocating for a “unified stance even at the Centre”.
Chavan, who heads the public works portfolio in the MVA government, Monday, said, “We’d have liked more cohesion, but the Sena and the NCP would have their own reasons for their stance.”
With the Opposition to the bills mainly centered around the minimum support price (MSP) and contract farming provisions, the protests against it have been more pronounced in Punjab and Haryana, so far, with some farm unions and outfits in Maharashtra even coming out in support of the legislation. While the BJP is currently on a media blitzkrieg extolling the virtues of these measures, Thorat said the provisions in these legislations will promote a “company raj” in agriculture and rob the farmers of the minimum price guarantee mechanism.
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