New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday gave his assent to the three contentious farm bills passed by Parliament last week amid massive ruckus by opposition. All the three bills are now laws. Also Read - Battle Lines Drawn: Amarinder Moves Resolution in Punjab Assembly Against Centre's Farm Laws
The bills were given a go-ahead despite protests by farmers as well as the opposition. The Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had also urged the President not to sign the bills after they were passed by Parliament. Also Read - Farmer Outfits in Punjab to Intensify Stir Against New Farm Laws, Declare State-wide Protests on October 17
The agitation even led to a ‘Bharat Bandh’ across states including Punjab and Haryana, that are considered the grain bowls of India, along with West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh witnessing road and rail blockades. Also Read - Farmers Walk Out of Centre's Meeting Over Minister's Absence, Tear Off Copies of Farm Laws
“Dark day for the country”
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), BJP’s oldest ally, had on Saturday pulled out of NDA after relations between both the parties soured due to sharp differences over the farm bills. On Sunday, party President Sukhbir Badal on Sunday described the Presidential assent to the three controversial farm sector Bills “sad, disappointing and extremely unfortunate”.
In a statement here, Sukhbir said it was really a “dark day for the country” that the President has refused to act as per the nation’s conscience. “We were very hopeful that the honourable President would return these Bills to the Parliament for reconsideration as demanded by SAD and by some other opposition parties too,” he said.
The party will chalk out the next course of action after due deliberations, he added.
Maharashtra refuses to implement farm laws
Maharashtra revenue minister and Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat termed the bills “anti-farmer”, adding that his government will not implement the laws in the state.
“The Bills passed by Parliament are anti-farmers. So we’re opposing it. Maha Vikas Aghadi will also oppose it & not implement it in Maharashtra. Shiv Sena is also with us. We’ll sit together & form a strategy,” Balasaheb Thorat said.
“A Congress delegation will meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Monday over farm bills,” he added.
‘Exploring options,’ says Punjab CM
Terming the President’s assent to the farm Bills as “unfortunate and distressing”, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday said his government is exploring all options, including possible amendments to the state laws, to protect the interests of the farmers.
All farmer organisations and other stakeholders would be taken into confidence before taking any decision on the way forward, he said, adding the state government was committed to the procurement of every single grain of the farmers without compromising on the pricing.
His government was already in consultation with legal and agricultural experts, and all those impacted by the Central government’s “calamitous” legislations, to decide on the future course of action, he said.
Besides legal recourse, his government was looking at other options to scuttle the Centre’s new agriculture laws “that are designed to ruin Punjab’s farmers and economy”, said the Chief Minister, who is scheduled to sit on ‘dharna’ against the “draconian” legislations on Monday at Khatkar Kalan in SBS Nagar after paying tributes to Shaheed Bhagat Singh at his ‘Samadhi Sthal’.
President signed the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, into law on September 24 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill on September 26.