Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday termed the three bills on agriculture reforms as “anti-farmer” and said the party will vote against it in the Parliament. Kejriwal’s party has three Rajya Sabha MPs and one Lok Sabha MP.
“Bills relating to farms and farmers brought in Parliament are anti-farmer,” Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi. “Farmers across the country are protesting against it. The Centre should withdraw these bills. Aam Aadmi Party MLAs will vote against the bills.”
On Monday, the Narendra Modi-led government had introduced the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, the Farmers Empowerment and Protection Agreement on Price Assurance and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill in Parliament to replace the ordinances promulgated earlier during the lockdown.
Farmers in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana have taken to the streets, protesting against the bills and demanded that they be withdrawn. The BJP-led government in Haryana had directed farmers to cancel the protest or face charges under the Epidemic Act and the Disaster Management Act amid the coronavirus crisis.
The bills seek to include private players in agriculture and promote hurdle-free sale of produce, but the farmers claim that they it will lead to corporate dominance. In Telangana, farmers said that the proposed legislations were “corporate agriculture bills” which were framed to suit “big corporates who seek to dominate the Indian food and agriculture business”.
However, Bharatiya Janata Party chief Jagat Prakash Nadda on Wednesday claimed that the bills were “very far-sighted” and would boost the farming sector and help farmers get a better price for their produce.
Apart from Opposition parties and farmers’ union, BJP’s ally Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab has criticised the bills. The party has issued a whip to its Rajya Sabha members, asking them to vote against the bill. It has three members in the Upper House – Naresh Gujral, Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.
On Tuesday, Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Badal had voted against the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in the Lok Sabha. He had said his party was not consulted before it was brought to Parliament.