Chhattisgarh Governor Anusuiya Uikey has returned the Bhupesh Baghel-led government’s proposal to hold a special Assembly session on October 27 and 28, to introduce a bill that would override the Centre’s three farm laws, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday. The governor has questioned the need for a special Assembly session, citing the Monsoon Session that ended just 58 days ago.

Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said his government will answer Uikey’s objections. “No one can stop the government with majority mandate from holding a session,” he told reporters. “The governor had some queries which we will respond before the day ends. If we still don’t get her assent, we will together decide the future course of action.”

Accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of playing “backdoor politics”, Baghel said the governor’s office should not be turned into a political arena. Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson RP Singh said that sending such a proposal to the governor is well within the legal rights of any elected government, The New Indian Express reported.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday moved a resolution in the legislative Assembly against the three new agriculture laws that were passed in Parliament last month amid chaos. His government also introduced three farming bills of their own to negate the central laws, after a month of protests by farmers in the state and across the country.

The farm 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.

A month later, protests against the laws continued 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.

The government claims the new laws would give farmers the freedom to sell in the open market. But some farmers disagree. They say the laws will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, leave farmers to the mercy of market forces and threaten food security.

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.