'Without discussing with farmers?': Opposition upset as President Kovind gives assent to three contentious farm bills

President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday gave assent to three contentious farm bills passed in Parliament last week that have triggered farmers' protest especially in Punjab and Haryana.

These three farm bills are: The Farmers' 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.

A gazette notification has been issued in this regard.

Parliament last week cleared the bills that are aimed at liberalising the agriculture sector and allowing farmers to sell their produce anywhere they want at a better price.

The Opposition is, however, criticizing the manner in which these bills were passed in Parliament. They had alleged that the bills were passed "unconstitutionally" in a "complete disregard" of Parliamentary norms.

They had requested the President to return the bills, and only give his assent after they have been passed after following proper rules and procedures.

Even NDA's oldest ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Saturday parted ways on the issue of these farm bills as farmers in Punjab and Haryana intensified protest.

The government has asserted that these bills will allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere they want at a better price.

The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 aims to permit the sale of agricultural produce outside the mandis regulated by the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMC) constituted by different state legislations.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 provides for contract farming.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020 aims to deregulate the production, supply, distribution of food items like cereals, pulses, potatoes and onion.

Protests by farmers against the laws continued on Sunday, with peasants in Punjab squatting on the Amritsar-Delhi railway track. Farmers, under the banner of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, have been staging a sit-in on the rail track in Punjab since last Wednesday.

Farmers have expressed apprehension that the Centre's farm reforms would pave a way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big companies.

Opposition, however, continue to be upset as President Kovind gives his assent to the bill. Here's what the opposition had to say:

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh expressed disappointment and anguish over the decision of the President to give his nod to the three "unconstitutional and anti-farmer" agriculture Bills, without giving the Congress and other Opposition parties the opportunity to put their concerns before the Parliament. He said his government is exploring all options, including possible amendments to the state laws, to protect the interests of the farmers.

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