Farmers continue protest; Congress-ruled states looking to "bypass" farm laws
Farmers across the country are continuing their protest against three laws, that the Centre claims will give them access to markets of their choice. The Bills, which were passed in the Monsoon Session, became laws with President Ram Nath Kovind's signature on Sunday. However, demanding a rollback, farmers have come on streets, with opposition joining the agitation too. Here are more details.
On Monday, Congress and other opposition parties participated in protests across the country, with Punjab Youth Congress members torching a tractor near India Gate, in the heart of Delhi. Down South, Karnataka Congress protested at its party office. Protests were also held in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Telangana, Gujarat, Goa, and Odisha. DMK Chief MK Stalin participated in a protest in Tamil Nadu.
Captain Amarinder Singh, the Chief Minister of Punjab (where the agitation has been the most concentrated), participated in a sit-in protest at the ancestral village of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh on his birth anniversary. He said his government would not hesitate in approaching the Supreme Court and warned that Pakistan's ISI might use farmers' anger to spark trouble in the border state.
As Congress looks to step up pressure against the Centre, Party President Sonia Gandhi on Monday asked Congress CMs to pass laws, overriding the federal government's rules. The CMs were advised to think about passing the legislation under Article 254(2) of the Constitution. Interestingly, in 2015, BJP-ruled states used the same section against the Land Acquisition Act of 2013 passed by UPA.
Beyond state Assemblies, Congress is also poised to approach SC against the laws. Congress MP from Kerala, TN Prathapan on Monday asked the apex court to label Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, as well as linked notifications "unconstitutional." He argued that nearly 15 crore people, working in the farming sector, would become defenseless against huge private players.
"Without APMCs, the market would ultimately fall to the corporate greed of MNCs, which are profit-oriented and have no care for poverty-stricken farmers," he said. Meanwhile, Captain also declared he will consult lawyers and added that he doesn't want Punjab's youth/farmers to pick up arms.
Further, reports suggested former Congress President Rahul Gandhi would also speak to farmers to understand their concerns. He is likely to lead a protest in the Northern state this week. The MP from Wayanad had earlier said, "The agriculture laws are a death sentence to our farmers. Their voice is crushed in Parliament and outside. Here is proof that democracy in India is dead."
In what shows that protesting farmers won't budge till the Centre addresses their concerns, the 'Rail Roko' protest in Amritsar entered its sixth day today. The protest is organized by Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, whose General Secretary said, "On October 1, we will announce mass agitation together with others across the nation." Wearing black outfits, the members sat on tracks at the Devidaspura village.