Sitharaman reminds Congress of its poll promise as Sonia Gandhi asks states to overrule Centre's Farm Laws
Sitharaman reminds Congress of its poll promise as Sonia Gandhi asks states to overrule Centre's Farm Laws

Amid uproar over the Farm Laws, on Tuesday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman reminded Congress of the promise they made in their Manifesto ahead of the 2019 General Elections.

What promise? In their Manifesto, the party stated, "Congress will repeal the Agricultural Produce Market Committees Act and make trade in agricultural produce—including exports and inter-state trade—free from all restrictions."

Congress, however, is now protesting over the same law they once promised would be repealed.

Reminding Congress of its promise, the Finance Minister said, "From Section 7 page 9 of the @INCIndia Lok Sabha 2019 manifesto: “Congress will repeal the Agricultural Produce Market Committees Act and make trade in agricultural produce—including exports and inter-state trade—free from all restrictions.” https://manifesto.inc.in/pdf/english.pdf"

In the following tweet, she said, " Did Congress give a false promise during the Lok Sabha 2019 elections or are they provoking people now by asking states to bypass the central legislation? Wonder who advises their President?"

Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday asked Congress-ruled states to try and bring in a law to overrule the Centre's Farm Law.

In a statement issued by the party General Secretary KC Venugopal, he said, "Hon'ble Congress President has advised the Congress-ruled states to explore the possibilities to pass laws in their respective states under Article 254 (2) of the constitution which allows the state legislatures to pass a law to negate the Anti-Agriculture Central laws encroaching upon State's jurisdiction under the Constitution."

"This would enable the states to bypass the unacceptable anti-farmers' provisions in the three draconian Agricultural laws including the abolition of MSP and disruption of APMCs in Congress-ruled states. This would also alleviate the farmers from the grave injustice done by the Modi Government & BJP," the statement added.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the new farm laws will have to be opposed not just for farmers but for the future of the country, as he alleged that they were like a "stab in the farmers' hearts".

Some states, especially the Congress-ruled Punjab, are witnessing protests by farmers against the new Central laws.

"This (states passing laws negating Central legislations) would enable the states to bypass the unacceptable anti-farmers' provisions in the three draconian Agricultural law including the abolition of MSP and disruption of APMCs in Congress ruled states," the party said.

Moreover, protests and rallies by farmers' bodies and opposition parties marked the Karnataka bandh on Monday against amendments to two state legislations related to the farm sector, while Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said he was ready to talk to the royts and allay their fears.

The shutdown call evoked a mixed response and though markets were open, buses and metro trains were operated, the turnout was relatively low.

The dawn-to-dusk bandh called by the Karnataka Raitha Sangha (farmers' association) and other farmer organisations was supported by the Congress, JD(S), Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) and the Left parties.

Amid heavy police deployment, the protesters, waving party flags and raising slogans against the amendments to the APMC and land reforms acts courted arrest.

Parts of the state, including the capital city, saw massive protests with public squares teeming with protesters.

Tyres were set ablaze at some places to mark their opposition.

Ignoring social distancing norms to contain the spread of coronavirus, farmers hit the streets in groups at many locations, raised slogans, took out bike rallies and staged demonstrations.

In Bengaluru, farmers and Karnataka Rakshana Vedike members, including its chief T A Narayana Gowda, took out a rally and tried to stop buses when they were arrested.

The demonstrations were against the Karnataka Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation and Development) (Amendment) Bill and the Karnataka Land Reforms (Second Amendment) Bill passed in the Assembly on Saturday.

The amendment to the land reforms act lifts restrictions on purchasing agricultural land and enables any individual to buy them. Earlier, the law permitted only farmers to purchase agricultural land in the state.

The APMC amendment curtails the powers of local Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMC) and allows private individuals to start agricultural trading, if they hold a permanent account number (PAN).

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