The Congress government in Punjab has decided to convene a special session of the state Assembly on October 19 to introduce a legislation to counter the Centre’s farm laws. The decision was taken in a virtual meeting chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in Chandigarh, PTI reported on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, Singh had said that his government will fight the “anti-federal and vicious” farm laws to the end through legislative, legal and other routes, The Tribune reported. He had also said that he would convene a special session of the Punjab Assembly to amend state laws to mitigate the “dangerous impact” of the central legislations, which he said would ruin the farmers of his state.

In an Assembly session held on August 28, the legislature had passed a resolution to reject the farm ordinances.

Earlier in the day, a farmers’ delegation from Punjab walked out of a meeting with Union Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal, protesting the absence of any central minister, including Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar at the meeting. The delegation comprising 29 farmer organisations then tore up copies of the three farm laws outside Krishi Bhawan.

Singh criticised the absence of a central minister. He said that the Centre had rubbed salt into the wounds of the farmers by making them meet some officer. The chief minister said this shows the malicious intent of the government, and that the farmers would never trust it again.

The 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 – were passed in September. They were signed into law by President Ram Nath Kovind on September 27.

Weeks later, protests against the laws continue to be staged in many parts of the country. When two of the legislations were tabled during a chaotic session in Parliament on September 20, some Opposition MPs claimed that they would prove to be the “death warrant” for the agricultural sector.

Taken together, the three legislations loosen regulations on the sale, pricing and storage of agricultural produce. They allow farmers to sell outside mandis notified by the Agricultural Produce Market Committee. They enable contract farming through deals with private sector companies. They take food items like cereals and pulses off the list of essential commodities, lifting stock limits on such produce.

Most Opposition parties and farmers’ organisations across the country have strongly opposed the bills. The Shiromani Akali Dal, one of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s oldest allies, pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance in protest against these bills.