The Rajasthan government on Saturday introduced three bills in the state Assembly to counter the three farm legislation recently enacted by the Centre, reported PTI. Rajasthan is the second state after Punjab to formally reject the controversial laws.

Shanti Dhariwal, a Cabinet minister in the Rajasthan government, introduced the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill 2020, the Essential Commodities (Special Provisions and Rajasthan Amendment) Bill 2020 and the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation and Rajasthan Amendment) Bill 2020 on the first day of the state Assembly session. The minister also introduced the Code of Procedure (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill 2020.

The Speaker adjourned the House after passing the obituary remarks on the demise of former President Pranab Mukherjee and other leaders.

Punjab had approved three bills to counter the Centre’s farm laws on October 20. One of the bills provides for imprisonment of not less than three years for the sale or purchase of wheat or paddy below the minimum support price. The bill also makes forcing farmers to sell below MSP punishable.

Another bill cleared by Punjab prevents black-marketing of food grains. Farmers owning up to 2.5 acres have also been given protection against the attachment of their land.

The farm laws

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

Protests had erupted 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.

The government claims the new laws would give farmers the freedom to sell in the open market. But 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.