Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan on Sunday attacked the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-led Tamil Nadu government for supporting the farm bills passed recently in the Parliament, NDTV reported. He said that bills take away the state’s autonomy and a “dangerous situation” can arise if there is a scarcity or price rise of the farmers’ produce.
He also urged President Ram Nath Kovind to send the bills back to Parliament for discussion. “That’s the only way these can be made beneficial to farmers,” Haasan said in a statement. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad had on Tuesday met the president, urging him not to give his assent to the bills.
However, Kovind signed all three farm bills on Sunday evening and the proposed legislations are now going to be implemented as law.
“Isn’t this support to these bills a betrayal of farmers by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami who calls himself a farmer,” Haasan asked. He also reminded people of the upcoming state Assembly elections next year and said that farmers have the power to “bury” the government.
Haasan said that the bills threatened food security, adding that the ruling AIADMK gained power in the state by promising farmers more autonomy. “It is a ploy to make corporates new landlords and farmers modern-day farm slaves,” he added. “The bills would pave the way for corporate hoarding and create scarcity for profit. Why is the government covering up the dangers of corporates fixing prices of farm produce? Continuation of minimum support price has come under question.”
Haasan’s remarks came days after Chief Minister Palaniswami said he did not oppose the bill as it would benefit the farmers of Tamil Nadu. The AIADMK is a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance.
Two bills – the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill – were passed in the Parliament on September 20. The last one, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, was also approved by a voice vote in Rajya Sabha on September 22.
Critics say that these new agricultural policies will lead to farmers losing out on guaranteed purchase prices for their crops, to the benefit of large corporations. Most Opposition parties have strongly opposed the bills. On Saturday, the Congress ran a social media campaign “Speak Up for Farmers”, where party leaders criticised the Narendra Modi government and posted videos showing their support for the farmers.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre, however, has consistently maintained that the bills will help in farmers getting a higher price for their produce as state-based Agricultural Produce Market Committees or APMC has been removed. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said farmers in India now have the power to sell their produce wherever they get the best price and to anyone they want. He also said that the removal of APMC has helped the farmers of Maharashtra.
More than 265 farmers’ groups across the country on Friday staged protests against the three legislations.