Before passing the two contentious farm bills, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned for a brief period earlier in the day after heated exchanges between sides supporting and opposing the bills.
Two contentious farm bills, cleared by the Lok Sabha earlier, were passed in the Rajya Sabha by voice vote on September 20 despite some ruckus.
The House had been adjourned for a brief period earlier in the day after heated exchanges between sides supporting and opposing the bills. Farmers, especially in Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against this legislation.
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, had been passed by the Lok Sabha on September 17, amid a walkout by Opposition parties and the resignation of a union minister over their passage.
A third bill, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, was listed but not taken up by the House. The three bills are meant to replace ordinances promulgated by the Centre in June.
These bills seek to provide barrier-free trade for farmers’ produce outside notified farm mandis and empower farmers to enter into farming agreements with private players prior to production for sale of agri-produce. However, protesting farmers claim that the move will 'corporatise' the agriculture sector and further cripple them financially.
The government claims that these initiatives will help farmers get better prices for their crops, by legalising contract farming, for instance.
Opposition parties such as Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Trinamool Congress, as well as the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) – an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – had opposed these bills. SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal had resigned from the Union Cabinet on September 17 to register her protest.
The bill was supported by other National Democratic Alliance (NDA) constituents and other parties such as Andhra Pradesh’s ruling YSRCP.
Members of Parliament from the Congress, the Left front and other opposition parties sat in protest inside the Rajya Sabha chamber even after the House was adjourned for the day.
In a series of tweets, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed Parliament’s nod for the two bills. He said it was a “watershed moment in the history of Indian agriculture” which would “ensure a complete transformation” of the sector and empower crores of farmers.Responding to concerns raised by farmers, PM Modi reiterated in a tweet that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system “will remain” and that “government procurement will continue”. “We are here to serve our farmers. We will do everything possible to support them and ensure a better life for their coming generations,” he added.