In an action-packed first day of the Parliament's Winter Session on Monday, 29 November, the highly-anticipated Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 was passed in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha within minutes of its introduction, and amid vehement calls for discussion by the Opposition MPs.
This came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced, after witnessing over a year-long protests by the farmers, that the Centre's contentious farm laws would be repealed in the Winter Session.
Later, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmers unions, released a statement saying that this was the “first major victory of the farmers' movement, while other important demands are still pending”.
'Bill Tabled to Repeal Farm Laws Passed Without Debate': SKM
Speaking on how the farm laws and the bill to repeal them were bulldozed through the Parliament, SKM said in its statement,
“History has been made today in India, when the anti-farmer central farm laws got repealed. However, the development was marred by the fact that there was no debate allowed on the bill tabled to repeal the three laws. These laws were brought in first as Ordinances in June 2020 and later as full-fledged legislations in September 2020 but ironically, without any debate allowed at that time too.”
Further, highlighting that the Statement of Objects and Reasons accompanying the repeal bill “cannot be farther from truth”, SKM said:
“In most state APMC Acts, farmers already have the freedom to sell their produce to any buyer at any place of their choice and such a freedom was not given for the first time by the Modi government as is being claimed.”
SKM added, “Any so-called freedom without protection from exploitation is meaningless. The eco-system that was sought to be created in de-regulated spaces is meant for corporates and traders and not for farmers. The fact that these laws were enacted in an unconstitutional manner has not been admitted to, even now.”
SKM further contested the claim that the laws were discussed with the farmers and said, “In a democracy, opportunistic consultations with industry-sponsored farm unions is not the way forward, and there have to be serious deliberative democratic processes adopted.”
'Egoistic and Adamant Attitude'
Moreover, SKM pointed out that the Statement of Objects and Reasons for the Government of India's Repeal Bill reflects the “egoistic and adamant attitude of the present government, and it is only meant to misguide gullible people, if any.”
Though the “three black laws” were repealed, “686 farmers have sacrificed their lives in a peaceful and persistent protest”, SKM said and underlined that the “responsibility for this massive human cost lies squarely with the Modi government”.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Kadian president Harmeet Singh Kadian, told news agency ANI, “A meeting of SKM will be held on 1 December. The next decisions on agitation, over MSP Committee, will be taken in the next meeting. The meeting that was scheduled for 4 December will go on as decided. This is an emergency, special meeting (on 1 December) that will be held by the representatives of farmer organisations who went for 11 rounds of talks.”
Kadian was further quoted as saying:
“Our other demands like repeal of Electricity Amendment Bill 2020, cancellation of FIRs against protesters, suspension of Ajay Misra from Union Cabinet are still pending. The most important demand is about MSP, for which government is yet to give us correct guidelines as to how that committee will work. We have given a day’s time to Union government for the same and hence have called SKM’s meeting on 1 December in which we will decide the way ahead.”Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Kadian president Harmeet Singh Kadian, as quoted by The Indian Express
Further, BKU leader Rakesh Tikait said, “Farm laws have been a disease and it’s good that they are revoked. Let the President put the stamp on the bill then we will discuss other issues like 750 farmers who died, MSP, and quashing the cases lodged against farmers”, ANI reported.
(With inputs from ANI and The Indian Express.)