The Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra on Wednesday withdrew its August order to implement new farm laws in the state, after facing pressure from its allies, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, the Hindustan Times reported.
This came a day after several media reports said that the state department had already issued instructions for the “strict implementation” of the three ordinances issued by the Centre in August, making Maharashtra one of the early states to enforce the contentious measures.
A two-paged notification was issued on August 10 by Maharashtra’s Director of Marketing Satish Soni, asking all agriculture produce and livestock market committees and district agriculture cooperatives in the state to implement the ordinances. On September 27, President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the three farm bills that were passed in the Parliament last week amidnationwide farmers’ protests.
Minister of Cooperation and Marketing Balasaheb Patil confirmed to Free Press Journal that the meeting was held earlier in the day, and the notification was withdrawn.
The three-party coalition government in Maharashtra had been in a dilemma over the implementation of the contentious laws, as the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party are opposed to them. The parties held that the laws were anti-farmer and would destroy the agrarian economy and livelihoods.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee President Balasaheb Thorat had earlier this week claimed that Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress were all against the legislations, NDTV reported.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar had announced last week that the state government would not implement the farm laws in the state. The matter was discussed in the state Cabinet on Wednesday and it was decided not to implement the new laws.
On Monday, Congress President Sonia Gandhi asked states ruled by her party to pass legislations to override the three laws amid relentless countrywide protests. Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal said this would enable the states to negate the “unacceptable” anti-farmers’ provisions in the “draconian” agricultural laws.
The three ordinances – Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Ordinance 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Assurance and Farm Service Ordinance 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 – passed on June 5, were converted into law by the Parliament in the third week on September, amid vehement protests from the Opposition.
During discussions on the ordinances, the Maha Vikas Aghadi partners had adopted varied stances. The Congress was consistent in its vocal opposition to the passage of the bills in the both the Houses, and even organised nationwide protests. The Shiv Sena staged a walkout during the debate in the Rajya Sabha, but backed the passage of the bills in the Lok Sabha, according to The Indian Express. The NCP, meanwhile, opposed the bills in the Lok Sabha and had walked out during the voice vote in the Upper House.
The farm laws and protests
There have been massive protests against the three farm laws in Punjab and Haryana, two states considered “grain bowls” of the country. The protests have been backed by most Opposition parties. 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.
Critics say that these new agricultural policies would lead to farmers losing out on guaranteed purchase prices for their crops, to the benefit of large corporations.