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Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh at the state assembly session in Chandigarh on Tuesday.pti
Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh at the state assembly session in Chandigarh on Tuesday.pti

Punjab brings in legislation to negate farm laws of the Centre

  • The state assembly passed four bills to safeguard sale of agriculture produce at MSP, prevent hoarding
  • The bills were passed unanimously with support from all political parties, barring two Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs who skipped the session

The Punjab government led by chief minister Amarinder Singh of the Congress became the first state on Tuesday to formally bring in legislation to counter the farm laws recently implemented by the Centre. The legislative assembly passed four bills and adopted a resolution against the Centre’s farm laws after a five-hour discussion.

The bills were passed unanimously with support from all political parties, barring two Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs who skipped the session.

Singh along with several MLAs in an all-party delegation met governor V.P. Singh Badnore to apprise him of the development and urged him to accord his assent at the earliest to the bills passed by the assembly.

“I am not afraid of resigning. I am not afraid of my government being dismissed. However, I will not let farmers suffer or be ruined," Singh said while introducing the four bills in the special session of the assembly. “Protecting the interests of our farmers and the people of Punjab is paramount. It is and must be above everything else. We will not bow to any injustice to Punjab, even if it means having to quit," he said.

The four bills passed by Punjab are The Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020, The Essential Commodities (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020, and a bill on the Amendment to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

The bills focus on safeguarding the sale of farm produce at a minimum support price (MSP), punishment, including imprisonment up to three years for any violation, prevention of hoarding and black-marketing of foodgrain to protect consumers, besides a civil procedure amendment aimed at providing relief to farmers against attachment of land of up to 2.5 acres. The resolution passed by the assembly has sought the annulment of the Centre’s three farm laws and the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

“There is a total breakdown of the federal structure envisaged in the Constitution. We have no rights now and all powers of the states are being taken away. You can neither have taxation nor there is any constitutional guarantee because they are not giving us seven months’ due of goods and services tax, which amounts to nearly 9,000 crore. This is really unfortunate," Singh told reporters after meeting the governor.

Last month, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had asked states ruled by the party to bring legislation to negate the impact of the central laws on agriculture. Punjab’s move could spur other Opposition-ruled states, at least those under the Congress, such as Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, to bring in laws to step up pressure on the Centre on the bills.

The passage of the bills in Parliament had led to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) quitting the National Democratic Alliance last month. When the bills were taken up in the Punjab assembly on Tuesday, SAD MLA and senior leader Bikram Singh Majithia welcomed the legislation and spoke about the need for consent from the governor or President Ram Nath Kovind in case the bills are forwarded to them for assent. He, however, asked whether the state government will guarantee MSP to farmers for produce other than what is procured by the Centre till the time this happens.

The passage of the three farm laws by the Centre led to protests, particularly in Punjab and Haryana, with farmers and farm bodies demanding that the government repeals the laws.

anuja@livemint.com

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