Farmers at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi, shortly before meeting Union Ministers over their demands on Dec 1, 2020.
Farmers at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi, shortly before meeting Union Ministers over their demands on Dec 1, 2020.
Photo via IANS

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), from its official Twitter handle on Wednesday, wondered if the farmers agitating against the central government's new farm laws were, in fact, part of a greater "conspiracy".

The saffron camp posed the question to its followers, highlighting that the contentious agriculture legislations have not even been enacted in Punjab by the Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in the state.

"Think... the new farm laws have not even been implemented by the Punjab government. Yet, why are farmers from Punjab protesting? Is this a protest or a conspiracy?" the BJP's national account tweeted in Hindi, reiterating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi stands firm in support with the farmers of the country.

Notably, the Punjab Assembly had on October 20 adopted a resolution rejecting the Centre's new farm laws and passed four bills it said will counter the contentious legislation enacted by Parliament.

The bills were passed and the resolution adopted unanimously after over five hours of discussion on the second day of a special assembly session called by the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government.

The state bills provide for imprisonment of not less than three years for the sale or purchase of wheat or paddy below the minimum support price (MSP), exemption of farmers from attachment of land up to 2.5 acres and prevention of hoarding and black-marketing of agricultural produce.

The move came amid calls from the Congress leadership to states where the party is in power to pass laws of their own, negating the central legislation.

The laws enacted at the Centre are meant to deregulate the sale of crops and open up new markets for farmers. But they have triggered farmers' protests, particularly in Punjab and Haryana.

Farm leaders met Union ministers on Tuesday, but the two sides failed to break the deadlock. The next round of talks is scheduled to be held on Thursday.

The opposition and farmer unions claim that the new laws will lead to the dismantling of the MSP system, a suggestion repeatedly denied by the BJP-led government at the Centre.

Punjab's counter bills add new clauses and amend provisions in the three central laws, with the state government arguing that this will "shield" its farmers from their impact.

In addition, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal had moved the Code of Civil Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020, aimed at protecting farmers from attachment of land, as a consequence of an agreement or otherwise.

The resolution adopted by the House sought the annulment of the three farm laws and also rejected the Centre's proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

It sought the promulgation of a fresh central ordinance making the procurement of foodgrain at MSP a statutory right for farmers and ensuring that Food Corporation of India and other agencies continue to buy from them.

The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020 too seeks to amend sections in the central law to ensure that wheat or paddy is not bought for less than the MSP.

The Essential Commodities (Special Provisions and Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2020 is meant to check hoarding and black marketing.

President Ram Nath Kovind had given assent in September to three central bills -- The Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

(With inputs from agencies)

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