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New Delhi: Even as farmers and opposition parties continue to protest against the controversial farm bills, President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday gave his assent for the three bills passed by the Parliament.

The three bills are Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020.

These bills were passed by Parliament amid much drama during the recently concluded monsoon session.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), NDA's oldest ally, had on Saturday quit the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over the contentious farm bills issue.

Farmers have expressed apprehension that the Centre's farm reforms would pave a way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big companies.

On Friday, a near total "bandh" was observed in Punjab while farmers blocked several roads in Haryana.

The movement of trains remained suspended in Punjab on Saturday as farmers have extended their “rail roko" agitation by three days till September 29.

In Punjab, the call for the “rail roko" agitation was given by the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee after which 20 trains were partially cancelled and five short terminated till September 26 by the Railways.

On Saturday, farmers squatted on the Amritsar-Delhi rail track and went shirtless in protest against the Bills.

They shouted slogans against the BJP-led Union government and demanded the rollback of the farm Bills which they described as “black laws".

The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 aims to permit the sale of agricultural produce outside the mandis regulated by the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMC) constituted by different state legislations.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, provides for contract farming. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020 deregulates the production, supply, distribution of food items like cereals, pulses, potatoes, onion and edible oilseeds.

The President's assent to these bills comes amid the Opposition criticising the manner in which they were passed in Parliament.

In his monthly 'Mann Ki Baat' broadcast on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that a large number of peasants have benefitted since fruits and vegetables were brought out of the APMC Act in some states a few years ago and asserted that grain-producing farmers will now have the same freedom.

Terming the passage of three farm bills in Parliament "unconstitutional", Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Sunday said a resolution opposing them will be brought in the next session of the Assembly.

Addressing a press conference in Raipur, Baghel also said a legal battle will be fought against implementation of these bills, if needed.

He said the Centre brought these bills through "backdoor" at a time when the country was fighting coronavirus pandemic.

Baghel said the state Congress government was committed to protect the interest of farmers.

"Centre does not have power to legislate upon agriculture, which is a state subject. The three bills passed in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha are unconstitutional and are in violation of the federal structure," Baghel said.

"The Bills passed by Parliament are anti-farmers. So we're opposing it. Maha Vikas Aghadi will also oppose it and not implement it in Maharashtra. Shiv Sena is also with us. We'll sit together and form a strategy," said Balasaheb Thorat, Minister of Revenue, Government of Maharashtra.

With agency inputs

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