India

President Signs Farm Bills Passed Amid Unprecedented Drama In Parliament

President Signs Farm Bills Passed Amid Unprecedented Drama In Parliament

The bills has raised concerns among farmers, who have dubbed them "anti-farmer". (Representational)

New Delhi:

All three controversial farm bills that are at the centre of a huge political storm and cost the ruling BJP its alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal, became laws today with the signature of President Ram Nath Kovind. Flagging them as "historic" reforms in the agri sector, the Centre has said it would help the country's farmers proceed into the 21st Century, helping them get better price for produce.

The opposition had requested the President not to sign the bills -- which would have sent them back to parliament for reconsideration -- after two of the bills were passed in Rajya Sabha last week amid uproar.

The opposition has alleged that the bills were pushed through voice vote in violation of the rules. The government, it said, lacked the numbers, which would have become clear if a physical voting was held. They also accused Deputy Chairman Harivansh Singh, who was presiding over the proceedings, of colluding with the government.

Mr Singh and the government have said the opposition demands for physical voting were negated as the members were not in their seats while making the demand.

Television footage of the Rajya Sabha proceedings of September 20, however, showed something else. The footage reviewed by shows that at least two of the three MPs -- KK Ragesh and Trichy Siva -- who moved the motion to send the controversial bills to a select committee, were in their seats when they demanded a division of votes.

The bills, which will replace the ordinances issued by the government in June, will help farmers increase their income and free them from the interference of middlemen, the government has said.  

Bypassing wholesale markers, the new laws enable farmers to deal directly with big corporations for the sale of produce and even allow pre-harvest contracts.

Farmers, however, are apprehensive about dealing directly with corporates. They fear that they will not be paid even the Minimum Support Price fixed by the government and be exploited. Calling the new system "anti-farmer", they have demanded that the laws be repealed.

Over the last weeks, huge farmers' protests have been held over the laws, especially in Punjab and Haryana, states that are dubbed the grain bowl of the country.  

On Friday, massive protests were held across the two states. Farmers from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and even the southern state of Karnataka had also joined in.

The Shiromani Akali Dal, which first quit the government and then the NDA over the new laws, said they plan to hit the roads with a tractor rally on October 1.

Akali chief Sukhbir Badal tweeted: "Extremely sad that @rashtrapatibhvn refused to heed farmers & Punjabis' cries & has signed #FarmBills and J&K bill excluding #Punjabi as official language. Hopes that President will act as nation's conscience & return Bills to Parliament dashed. Dark day for democracy & farmers."

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the Presidential assent was "unfortunate" and "disturbing".