In a historic move, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Tuesday unanimously passed three Bills to counter the contentious farm laws enacted by the Union Government last month. Among other things, the Bills make buying wheat and paddy below minimum support price (MSP) a punishable offence.
There is also a provision to levy fee on corporate houses making purchases outside mandis. The fee will be used for the welfare of farmers.
The second day of the special session began with CM Capt Amarinder Singh moving a resolution rejecting the Centre’s laws and the proposed Electricity Amendment Bill. He asked the Centre to annul these laws and bring an ordinance making procurement of farm produce at MSP a statutory right of farmers and continue procuring grain through the FCI and other agencies.
He urged the Centre not to allow the situation go out of hand. “If the laws are not revoked, angry youth may take to streets and join the protesting farmers, which would lead to chaos,” he warned.
Though the Opposition pledged support to the Bills, some MLAs raised questions on their validity. The only absentees in the House were the two BJP MLAs — Dinesh Singh and Arun Narang. The Aam Aadmi Party first backed the Bills even though it complained that the MLAs were not given time to go through these. Later in the evening, the party questioned the state’s powers to nullify laws passed by the Centre.
Akali Dal MLA Bikram Singh Majithia asked what would happen if the Governor refused to send the Bills for Presidential nod, or if the President refused to grant his assent? The Chief Minister said he was aware that such a situation could arise. “We will then fight the battle legally, but won’t allow anyone to harm the interests of Punjab farmers,” he said.
Congress MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu too spoke on the Bills. He said Punjab made the country food surplus and fed 80 crore people. “It is a conspiracy to harm the interests of Punjab farmers and let corporates rule the sector,” he alleged.
Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal introduced another Bill seeking amendment to the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. The Bill seeks to protect the farmers from attachment of land (below 2.5 acres) in any recovery proceedings. This Bill was also passed unanimously.