The TRS and the BJD, which have often sided with the government and backed it on crucial bills, sprang a surprise on Sunday.
While the TRS opposed the farm Bills, calling them a “direct brutal assault” on the rights of states and the Constitution, the BJD demanded that they be sent to a select committee. YSCRP, another party which has backed the government on key legislation earlier, backed the Bills.(Follow Parliament LIVE UPDATES here)
TRS MP K Keshava Rao accused the government of having changed the “very character” of the country. “A country whose culture is agriculture is now being sold to a corporate… …you are saying that freedom to sell is given to farmers. The freedom to sell is given, freedom to fix the price is not given to farmers… Do you think that he will go and sit with traders on equal terms and will have the same level-playing field as corporate in fixing up the prices?”
“I would treat this Bill as a direct brutal assault on the rights of States and the Constitution as such,” he said.
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BJD’s Amar Patnaik said there are structural issues in Indian agriculture where about 63 per cent farmers are small and marginal and 86 per of the landholdings are with small and marginal farmers. Arguing that buyers are key to the agricultural market, he said “…I am not sure if the Bill is going to bring buyers into the market which anyway is not happening and therefore, there is a possibility of cartelisation.”
“The small and marginal farmers do not even have the opportunity to get a minimum support price. So, is the Bill only for the big traders? It is a commerce and trade oriented Bill?… There is a huge miscommunication in the field, particularly in the farmer’s procurement areas. So, I would strongly urge the Government to consider sending these two Bills to the Select Committee…,” he said.
YSRCP’s V Vijayasai Reddy backed the Bill. He said by allowing contract farming, the farmer is assured of the sale price for his produce at a predetermined rate.
“Secondly, the Bill frees farmers from the coercion of the licensed middlemen as the farmers could till now sell only to the licensed middlemen and the middlemen found it easy to form cartels and control these markets and offer low prices to the farmers…. This ends the monopoly of the APMC system,” he said.
Hitting out at the Congress, he said the “hypocrisy” of the Congress is clear as its manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections had promised that if voted to power, it would repeal the Agricultural Produce Market Committees Act.
“This is what exactly the Government is doing now. What is this hypocrisy? Why are they opposing this Bill? There is no reason for the Congress Party to oppose this Bill. Their objective is only one….today all those who support the Bills are pro-farmers and those against it are pro-middlemen. They are pro-middlemen,” he said.
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