President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday gave his assent to all the three contentious farm bills, which opposition parties say are anti-farmer and corporate-friendly, after they were recently passed by Parliament.
The government, which has said that these landmark legislations will make farmers self-reliant, has notified them. More than a dozen opposition parties had urged President Kovind not to sign the contentious bills, alleging that they were passed “unconstitutionally” in “complete disregard” of parliamentary norms.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) even pulled out of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition at the Centre over the passage of the contentious farm bills, which the Punjab-based party said were “lethal and disastrous”. The SAD and the BJP had been allies since 1996 when both forged a pre-poll alliance ahead of the 1997 Punjab assembly elections which brought them to power.
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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.
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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. And the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, seeks to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onion, and potato from the list of essential commodities and will do away with the imposition of stock holding limits.
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The Sukhbir Singh Badal-led SAD had asked the central government not to bring the bills in Parliament till “all reservations” expressed by farmers are “duly addressed”. But when the Centre did not pay heed, the SAD asked the government to send these farm bills to a select committee, which did not happen. SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal then resigned from the Union Cabinet in protest.