TN Assembly adopts resolution against Centre’s farm laws; AIADMK, BJP walkout
Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Assembly on Saturday adopted a resolution urging the Centre to withdraw the three contentious farm laws, against which farmers have been holding protests for months outside Delhi.
The main opposition AIADMK and its ally BJP staged a walkout over the issue while another partner PMK did not follow suit. DMK’s allies, including Congress, the CPI and CPI(M) supported the resolution.
Chief Minister M K Stalin told the House that all cases, filed against farmers and leaders of political parties who staged peaceful protests across Tamil Nadu seeking withdrawal of farm laws, would be withdrawn.
Stalin moved a resolution, calling for the repeal of the three laws that went “against the doctrine of federalism enshrined in the Constitution” and sought that it be adopted unanimously. These laws should be withdrawn by the Centre to protect the interests of farmers and prevent agriculture from going into the control of big ticket companies, he said.
The resolution, listing the three farm laws, said “since the three laws are not conducive for our country’s agriculture growth and farmers welfare, these should be repealed by the union government.” Such laws were against the farmers’ welfare, the resolution added.
Stalin said his government, which respected the peaceful protests of farmers, was proposing the resolution. The demonstrations began on August 9, 2020 and August 28, 2021 marked the 385th day of protests, he said.
Independent India has not seen such protests and “we have a duty to fully oppose the three farm laws enacted by the Centre.”
“All the three laws are against agriculture and farmers. The only demand of farmers is that they should get the right price for their produce,” the Chief Minister said, adding all the three laws do not even “speak of Minimum Support Price even for the sake of it.”
With an ulterior motive, the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act curtailed the trade area of regulated markets, Stalin said.
The authority of regulated markets under the state government is controlled through the law.
Pointing to the presence of regulated markets in the state, Stalin said the law’s intent was to “spoil the objective and functioning” of such markets.
No state government was consulted on the matter, the Chief Minister said and faulted the Centre for unilaterally legislating in a field under the domain of state governments, adding it went against federalism.
“That is why we have to reject these laws. The state’s rights are affected, usurped due to it, the dignity of democratic institutions are spoiled,” Stalin said.
Lack of clarity vis-a-vis the trade area, loss of revenue for regulated markets and a scenario wherein infrastructure for farmers cannot be built were the other points Stalin made in respect of this Act.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act made it clear that it was to set free private firms from the supervision of state government, Stalin said.
Farmers would not be able to get remunerative prices and they also feared that they may have to lose their rights over their land holdings.
The terms of agreement would be more in favour of buyers rather than farmers and it is the view of neutral persons that this law only favoured private players, the CM said.
Also, farmers would not stand to benefit from the amendment made to the Essential Commodities Act, he said.
“Hence, these three laws are against agriculture and has adverse effects for farmers and consumers,” Stalin added.
AIADMK deputy leader O Panneerselvam said while the CM has listed the disadvantages of the farm laws, its advantages also need to be ascertained.
While AIADMK’s K P Anbalagan said the resolution has been tabled in a “hasty manner” and wanted discussions with relevant stakeholders, Panneerselvam sought to know whether the state government has written to the Centre over the matter and if it has received a reply.
Leader of the House, Duraimurugan said the legislations were enacted when the AIADMK was in power in the state and demanded to know the correspondence the party-led regime had with the Centre on the subject.
Stalin demanded to know whether the main opposition party supported the resolution or not.
In reply, Panneerselvam said petitions against the farm laws were pending before the Supreme Court and therefore no decision can be taken and also assured his party’s support for the welfare of farmers and farm labourers.
The chief minister said some other state assemblies had also passed resolutions against farm laws earlier. While the AIADMK had been maintaining that it stood behind farmers, he wondered what was the hesitancy it had during its stint in power to bring such a resolution.
“We are now doing what you could not do,” the CM said. Non-BJP ruled states like West Bengal, Punjab, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Delhi and Kerala have passed assembly resolutions against the farm laws.
Stalin said the resolution was in line with his party’s electoral promise made ahead of the April 6 assembly polls.
Later, Speaker M Appavu declared that the resolution was adopted unanimously.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister M R K Panneer Selvam introduced a Bill in the Assembly to repeal the TN Agricultural Produce and Livestock Contract Farming and Services (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2019, enacted during the previous AIADMK regime.
The statement of Objects and Reasons for the Bill said the TN Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation) Act, 1987 (TNAPMA) provided for regulation of buying and selling of farm produce.
“The agricultural marketing system now provides a better price discovery to the farmers” and it is therefore considered that it would be appropriate to make TNAPMA more robust by providing regulation of buying and selling of farm produce under any mode of marketing instead of an enactment for each mode of marketing. Therefore the government has decided to repeal the 2019 Act, the statement said.