Protest against farm laws: Congress steps up nationwide protests against farm bills, decides to knock on SC door

Opposition parties, led by the Congress, stepped up the protests against three contentious farm laws on Monday. The opposition parties organised protests across the nation even as Congress youth workers set a tractor on fire at India Gate in New Delhi.

The Opposition has alleged that the laws – Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 – will make the farmers vulnerable to exploitation and will lead to the scrapping of the minimum support price (MSP) system. They are also critical of the manner in which these bills were passed in Parliament.

As the party workers and leaders staged protests across several states, Congress MP from Thrissur, Kerala, TN Prathapan said that he will move the Supreme Court to challenge the constitutional validity of various provisions of the three contentious farm laws notified by the government.

Meanwhile, Congress president Sonia Gandhi advised her party’s CMs to explore options under Article 254 (2) of the Constitution to negate Centre’s new farm laws in their respective states.

Protests in Punjab and Haryana

The Congress invoked Bhagat Singh, whose birth anniversary was being celebrated today, during the protests, and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh took part in a sit-in at the ancestral village of the freedom fighter.

The chief minister said his government would approach the Supreme Court over the farm laws and warned that Pakistan’s ISI could exploit the anger over the new legislations to foment trouble in the border state.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said he would fight the Centre’s “malicious” new agriculture Acts constitutionally and legally, asserting that he will do whatever it takes to protect the farmers.

“I have said we will take this matter forward. The President has passed these bills and now we will take this matter to the Supreme Court,” Singh said after paying tributes to Bhagat Singh on his 113th birth anniversary at his ancestral place Khatkar Kalan in SBS Nagar district.

“There has been peace in Punjab but when you try to take away someone’s food, then won’t he be angry. He becomes the target for ISI. That is why I am saying whatever they have done is anti-national,” he later told reporters.

He said, “with the unrest among the farmers spreading to other states, the entire nation would be exposed to the ISI threat”.

The AICC general secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs, Harish Rawat, announced a signature campaign beginning October 2 to collect two crore signatures of farmers against the new farm laws and these will be submitted to the President of India on November 14.

Haryana Congress held a protest outside the party’s state headquarters in Chandigarh, alleging the laws will make farmers “dependent” and leave them at the mercy of big corporates.

A delegation comprising Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, party’s state affairs incharge Vivek Bansal, other senior leaders submitted a memorandum to Governor Satyadeo Narain Arya which was addressed to the President.

Congress worker set tractor on fire in Delhi

Five members of the Punjab Youth Congress were detained after they unloaded a tractor from a truck in the high-security area at Rajpath, a few hundred metres from the President House and the Parliament, in the national capital and set it on fire at around 7 AM.

“On #BhagatSingh’s birth anniversary Youth Congress set ablaze a tractor in protest against the govt’s anti farmer bills,” the Indian Youth Congress tweeted.

The BJP lashed out at the Congress over the incident, saying it has “shamed” the country with its “drama” aimed at garnering publicity and “misleading” farmers.

BJP general secretary Bhupender Yadav dubbed the Congress as “anti-farmers”, saying farmers venerate their farm equipment and will not set tractors on fire.

Farmers protest after setting tractor on fire near India Gate in Delhi on Monday (Photo Credits: PTI)

Protests in rest of the country

Protests were also held in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Telangana, Gujarat, Goa, Odisha and Tamil Nadu, where the DMK and its allies, including the Congress, hit the streets.

DMK chief MK Stalin said his party was ready to challenge the new laws in court.

Kerala was readying to approach the Supreme Court against the laws and Tamil Nadu government should follow suit and if this does not happen, “we (DMK) as an opposition party are ready to go to court on behalf of farmers and the people,” Stalin said, while addressing protesters in Kancheepuram district.

MDMK chief Vaiko, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president KS Alagiri, DMK leaders TR Baalu and Dayanidhi Maran were among those who took part in the protests held at separate locations.

Farmer protesting against new farm laws brought in by the Centre (Photo credit: PTI)

Demonstrations were held in Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli and Tirunelveli among other places across the state.

Nearly 100 Gujarat Congress workers, including state party president Amit Chavda and MLAs Baldevji Thakor and CJ Chavda, were detained in Gandhinagar during protests.

In Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) president Ajay Kumar Lallu and other party workers were held during the protest. Lucknow police stopped members of the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party’s students wing as they tried to march towards the chief minister’s residence.

Telangana Congress leaders and the new AICC in-charge for party affairs in Telangana Manickam Tagore were taken into custody when they tried to proceed to the Raj Bhavan from an adjacent government guest house. They were released by police later.

Meanwhile, farmer organisations backed by a number of other social and political outfits on Monday staged protests across Karnataka against amendments to the Karnataka Land Reforms Act and the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act passed by the Karnataka Assembly.

The call for a bandh given by the Karnataka Raitha Sangha (Karnataka Farmers’ Association) and other farmer organisations was supported by the Congress, JD(S), Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) and the Left parties.

Congress CMs advised to negate Centre’s laws

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday advised heads of Congress-ruled states to explore options available to them to bypass Centre’s new farm laws.

According to inputs, Sonia Gandhi has advised Congress chief ministers to pass laws in their respective states under Article 254 (2) of the Constitution of India. This would allow them to negate the three farm laws which were passed by both houses of Parliament and gained the assent of President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday.

Article 254(2) refers to a scenario where a law made by a state legislature concerning any matter that falls in the Concurrent List contains any provision repugnant to the provisions of an earlier law made by Parliament or existing law, with respect to that matter. In such a case, the law made by the state legislature will prevail, provided it is reserved for the consideration of the President of India and receives his assent.

It is important to note, however, that neither of the two clauses of Article 254 can prevent Parliament from enacting any law with respect to the same matter, including a law adding to, amending, varying or repealing the law so made by a state legislature.

Congress MP to move SC

Congress MP TN Prathapan has said he will move the Supreme Court and submit a petition challenging the contentious farm bills passed by Parliament last week.

TN Prathapan, Member of Parliament from Kerala, will be arguing before the Supreme Court against The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 which got President’s assent on Sunday.

Source – India Today