Senior Congress leader and former Union minister P Chidambaram Friday said the farmer protests and the passage of two contentious farm legislations in the Lok Sabha captured the “distance between the people and the government.” Taking to Twitter, the former finance minister said the Centre’s farm policy, which was drafted without consulting states, was “a huge blow dealt by the BJP government to states’ rights and federalism”.
The Lok Sabha Thursday passed the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, through a voice vote.
Chidambaram said the Bills challenged the three pillars of India’s food security system — the minimum support price (MSP), public procurement and the public distribution system (PDS). He said it was a grave flaw that the Bills failed to ensure farmers were paid more than the MSP.
“The two Ordinances challenge the three pillars of our still-imperfect ‘food security system’. They are (1) MSP; (2) public procurement; and (3) PDS… The grave flaw in the Ordinances is that they do not stipulate that the price which the farmer gets ‘shall not be less than the MSP’,” tweeted Chidambaram.
He added, “Farmers in Tamil Nadu have told me that they are selling paddy at Rs 850 to private traders against an MSP of Rs 1,150. State government must explain.”
The two Ordinances challenge the three pillars of our still-imperfect ‘food security system’. They are (1) MSP; (2) public procurement; and (3) PDS
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) September 18, 2020
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, while moving the Bills in the Lower House Thursday, said they were aimed at making farming profitable, and clarified that these Bills would not have any impact on the MSP mechanism. He further assured that these legislations would not encroach upon the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Acts of the states.
In protest over the passing of the farm bills, Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigned as Union Minister of Food Processing Industries on Thursday. “I have resigned from Union Cabinet in protest against anti-farmer Ordinances and legislation. Proud to stand with farmers as their daughter and sister,” the SAD leader tweeted.
In his speech during a discussion on two of the farm Bills, Lok Sabha MP and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the proposed laws would “destroy” the 50 years of hard work done by successive Punjab governments to build the farm sector.
Farmers in Punjab and Haryana have been protesting against three ordinances promulgated by the Centre on June 5. (Don’t miss from Explained: What are these ordinances, and why are farmers protesting?)
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