The Congress on Monday said the party will launch a nationwide agitation from September 24 against the central government for passing farm bills in Parliament, reported the Hindustan Times. Meanwhile, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and its allies have decided to launch protests all over Tamil Nadu on September 28.

On Sunday, the Rajya Sabha cleared 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, by a voice vote. The passage of the bills came amid severe protests from Opposition parties.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the third ordinance, which is part of the Centre’s farm liberalisation policies, has not been passed yet. On Sunday and Monday, there were protests in the Upper House and the third ordinance could not be taken up. All the three ordinances were passed in the Lower House on Friday.

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Monday said that the party will take up the matter with the people of the country. A six-member special panel, formed by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, held a meeting on the matter. The party is expected to have a series of countrywide programmes supporting the farmers’ rights. State unit chiefs and legislature party leaders will walk to Raj Bhavans and submit a memorandum.

The protest will continue till the Centre repeals the “anti-farmer, anti-poor and anti-people laws”, said party leader AK Antony.

Meanwhile, the DMK and its allies’ protests will urge the Centre to repeal the farm bills, reported PTI. The party chief MK Stalin said the demonstrations will condemn the state’s ruling party All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s involvement in the passage of the ordinances.

A resolution of the parties said that the ordinances have once against questioned “federalism” and pushed poor farmers to a state of suffering. It added that the proposed laws cleared the way for “anti-social activity of hoarding farm produce”. “This meeting places on record its strong opposition to the farm bills passed by the Centre which is against the farmers, farm labourers, consumers and the general public and which would cause a setback to progress of agriculture,” the resolution said.

In Punjab, as many as 30 farmers’ outfits have called for a complete shutdown on September 25 to protest against the agriculture bills, PTI reported. The Aam Aadmi Party has also decided to support the agitation.

A party delegation led by AAP MLA Harpal Singh Cheema and in-charge of Punjab affairs Jarnail Singh handed over a memorandum to Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore for forwarding it to President Ram Nath Kovind, urging him not to give his approval to the farm bills.

Farmers and traders have been vehemently opposing the new bills, alleging the government wants to discontinue the minimum support price regime in the name of reforms. They also fear that the bills would bring about corporate dominance in agriculture.

Eighteen Opposition parties wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday, calling the passage of the farm ordinances “absolute and total murder of democracy” in Parliament, according to NDTV. Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, DMK, Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal were among the signatories.

“We, belonging to diverse political parties cutting across India’s political and geographical spectrum, bring this representation to you to respectfully draw your urgent attention to the absolute and total murder of democracy, ironically in the most hallowed temple of democracy, parliament,” read the letter. The parties called for a return of the bills and urged Kovind not to provide his assent.

“We pray that you exert all powers, constitutional and moral, to ensure such a black law does not become law...” the letter said.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the farm bills that had generated controversy and outrage from Opposition parties were “historic and necessary” for the country to move forward in the 21st Century. He also claimed that the Opposition was instigating farmers with lies as they “feel control slipping away”.

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  2. Farm bills: PM Modi claims Opposition is lying to farmers as it feels ‘control slipping away’