Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that allegations of the farm bills being against farmers are “baseless”.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah hailed the contentious farm bills, recently cleared by Parliament, as “landmark” in an article published in The Times of India.
Shah has argued that agriculture in India for long suffered from “apathy and policies rigged to benefit others at the cost of the farmer”.
The article comes on the back of the government pushing through two of the three contentious agriculture-related bills -- The Farmers' and Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 -- in Parliament. On September 20, two of the three bills were passed in Rajya Sabha by voice vote amid opposition protests. A rulebook was flung at the Chair and papers were tossed in the air as opposition members tried to block voting.
A third bill, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, has not been taken up for passage so far. The three bills are meant to replace ordinances promulgated by the Centre in June.
Farmers, especially in Punjab and Haryana, are protesting against the bills claiming that the move will 'corporatise' the sector.
The protests against these farm bills “represent political dishonesty and the influence of middlemen, considering that they together with changes in Essential Commodities Act to remove cap on stock holdings can herald a New Deal for the agriculture sector,” Shah said.
Shah said that allegations of the two legislations being against farmers are “baseless” and “have been raised by Congress and others as a smokescreen to cover their failures.”
“Congress promised to repeal the APMC Act in its 2019 manifesto, but is now putting the interests of middlemen over those of farmers,” the union home minister wrote.
Criticising the opposition, Shah said their conduct in the Upper House of Parliament during passage of the bills was a “dark blot on Indian democracy and parliamentary decorum”.
It reflects the opposition’s frustration over loss of support and anti-farmer mindset, Shah added. “That alone can explain the propaganda that has been unleashed that enactment of the two laws will lead to abolition of MSP (minimum support price). The lie has already been exposed with the announcement of MSP for rabi crops this week and with the government’s solemn declarations inside and outside Parliament that MSP will continue.”
The loudly declared intent of successive Congress governments to help farmers never translated into ground reality, Shah said. “The sickeningly dishonest and dreary pattern was junked in 2014, with the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi determinedly trying to remove the fetters which kept farmers from fully harnessing the potential of Indian agriculture.”Listing initiatives undertaken by the Centre for farmers, Shah said that the government’s focus has been on “improving the acreage under irrigation”, encouraging farmers to diversify into allied activities. Hiking the MSP and direct financial assistance “worth thousands of crores” are measures that have marked a “fresh approach”, Shah said.