JAIPUR: The Rajasthan government on Monday passed three bills in the state assembly to negate the recent farm laws enacted by the Centre.
The Gehlot government has introduced a number of provisions to protect the interests of farmers in the bills. The new bills will ensure that farmers’ produce gets them at least the Minimum Support Price (MSP). The MSP for seven crops --wheat, gram, mustard, moong-lentil, urad, soybean, and groundnut -- has been ensured for farmers. In addition, provisions of punishment (jail and/or fine) have been clearly spelled out in case crops are purchased from framers at a price lower than MSP.
The bill proposes a punishment of three to seven years in jail with or without a fine of Rs five lakh if any person, corporate house, or any association harasses farmers.
With this, Rajasthan has become the third Congress-ruled state to pass bills in order to combat the Centre's farm legislation. The Congress High Command had asked states where the party is in power to pass laws to counter the central legislations that had ignited farmer protests in many parts of the country.
Punjab and Chhatisgarh have already passed bills to counter the central farm bills.
In the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, a specific provision states, “No Farming Agreement for the sale or purchase of a crop shall be valid unless the price paid for such agricultural produce is equal to, or greater than, the prevailing Minimum Support Prices, announced by the Central Government for that crop."
The passage of the bills, however, was preceded by a heated political debate where BJP and Congress MLAs traded charges against each other rather than discussing the merits/demerits of the new legislations.
During this discussion, Deputy Leader of the opposition, Rajendra Singh Rathore claimed that the Gehlot government has brought these bills only to please the top Congress leaders in Delhi. The language used by the state government about the Central farm laws seems as if those laws were made in Pakistan. The state laws are unconstitutional since the state government has no right to bring such laws."
Congress MLAs argued that the laws brought by the Modi government at the Centre were against the interests of farmers and the state government must oppose them strongly.
Concluding the heated debate Parliamentary Affairs minister Shanti Dhariwal asserted, "We will not allow any contract farming at rates Lowe than the MSP in Rajasthan. In the central laws, all the benefits have been ensured to the corporates. The central laws are aimed at giving a free run to capitalists and market to exploit farmer but we will not allow it in Rajasthan."