Chants of "Withdraw the contract-farming ordinance, down with the anti-public government and the Modi government" rocked the Indian Parliament on Tuesday. Left-wing MPs have come forward in support of farmers who are reeling from stress caused by the newly-proposed laws, which are likely to pass during the ongoing monsoon session, which kicked off on 14 September.
Chanting slogans against the Modi government, they reiterated the farmers’ demand that the proposed ‘anti-farmers’ laws be withdrawn.
#WATCH Delhi: Members of Parliament (MPs) of the Left parties protest in front of Gandhi statue at the Parliament, over their demand for withdrawal of 'anti-farmer ordinances'. pic.twitter.com/HPXx3aD8AL— ANI (@ANI) September 15, 2020
The bills were tabled in the lower house (Lok Sabha) on Monday. The government has said that farmers will receive a minimum price tor their produce in the market but opposition parties have alleged that the new laws will lead to their exploitation by big companies.
Farmers across the country from different states such as Punjab, Haryana, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh etc., have been protesting against the laws ever since they have been introduced.
Watch: Farmers in a large number take out march on National Highway-44 near #Kurukshetra in protest against agriculture ordinances passed by Modi government. However, the protest turns violent after clash with police. #FarmersProtest pic.twitter.com/Ie5RcIXDzc— India Ahead News (@IndiaAheadNews) September 10, 2020
Introduced under the relief package announced by the government in June to support farmers during the COVID-19 induced lockdown, the three laws became operational through an ordinance as the parliamentary session was postponed due to pandemic.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, and an amendment to the Essential Commodities Act of 1955 are widely opposed by the farming community.
As per the government, these new laws aim to free agricultural trade and allow the participation of private players in the agriculture sector. It will allow entrepreneurs to establish private electronic trading platforms, with inbuilt market intelligence features, to benchmark sales against prevailing trends.
However, the farmers feel that this will result in corporate dominance of the farming sector as it will legalise contract farming, allowing big businesses and companies to cultivate vast lands on contract, which they fear will eventually result in the harassment of poor farmers.
When the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014, it promised to implement the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations (addressing the nationwide problem of farmers committing suicide). The government also pledged to double the farmers' income by 2022. As per the National Crime Records Bureau’s accidental deaths and suicides in India report, released in 2019, 11,379 suicides were reported in India in 2016.