Thousands of farmers in various parts of the country launched rallies and sit-ins to protest the controversial farm bills. Massive protests are taking place in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka. The farmers blocked highways, railways tracks and have warned the government that they will intensify the agitation if the bills are not repealed. They fear the bills will put the small and marginal farmers at major risk.
Apart from the farmers, several Opposition political parties including the Congress, Trinamool Congress, RJD and 10 central trade unions have supported the farmers’ agitation. In various parts of the country – including in West Bengal – Trinamool Congress, Congress and the Left parties have also launched protests to oppose the bills.
There is a “complete shutdown” call in Punjab which has been announced by 31 farmers’ groups. The Congress-led government has announced its support for the farmers and that no complaints will be lodged against the protestors. Farmers are also protesting along the Faridkot-Kotapura highway and the Delhi-Amritsar highway. A “rail roko” agitation that started in Amritsar on Thursday is continuing on Friday. A road in Uttar Pradesh’s Noida that borders Delhi also has a farmers’ gathering.
In West Bengal, the Left parties have taken out rallies. The Trinamool Congress has been holding protests and sit-ins in various parts of the state for the past three days.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated that the bills are “historic” and accused the Opposition political parties of misleading the farmers. Addressing a virtual meeting of BJP leaders, Modi said the small and marginal farmers would benefit from the reforms.
The Rajya Sabha has cleared the Farmers’ and Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, by a voice vote. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the third ordinance, which is part of the Centre’s farm liberalisation policies, has not been passed yet.
On Sunday and Monday, there were protests in the Rajya Sabha and the third ordinance could not be taken up. All the three ordinances were passed in the Lok Sabha on September 18.
Opposition political parties have appealed to President Ram Nath Kovind to stop clearing the bills that are waiting his approval.
Eight MPs of the Opposition including Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien, Dola Sen, Congress’ Rajeev Satav, CPM’s KK Ragesh and Aam Admi Party’s Sanjay Singh were suspended from the Rajya Sabha on Monday for “unruly” behaviour in the House on Sunday when the controversial bills were being passed.
[Image: CPIM West Bengal Facebook]