India’s Lok Sabha passes bill to repeal 3 contentious farm laws

Farmers participate in a tractor rally to protest against the newly passed farm bills, on a highway on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, January 7, 2021. REUTERS

The Lok Sabha, lower House of the Indian parliament, today passed a bill to repeal the three contentious agricultural sector reform laws, against which farmers have been protesting for over a year, within minutes of its introduction without discussion.

Soon after the Lok Sabha reassembled at noon after a brief adjournment on the first day of the winter session, Indian Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar introduced the Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 through which the government wants to scrap the three laws which were passed by parliament in September last year.

The three laws were brought with an objective to bring reforms in the agriculture sector, especially marketing of farm produce.

The opposition lawmakers rushed to the well of the House demanding a debate on the bill and raised slogans and banners, our New Delhi correspondent reports.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said he was ready to allow discussion on the bill provided the protesting lawmakers go back to their seats and there is order in the House.

"You want debate, I am ready to allow debate when there is order in the House. But if you come to the well, how can there be a debate?" -- he said asking the members to take their seats.

However, the opposition did not pay heed to the Speaker's appeal and continued their protests.

Congress leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asked since the bill to repeal the three controversial laws is listed for consideration and passage why is there no discussion. He accused the government of taking the House for a ride.

As the turmoil continued, the Speaker took a voice vote and declared the bill passed.

Bowing to thousands of agitating farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced on November 19 that the three farm legislations would be withdrawn.

The repeal of these three legislations has been one of the key demands of around 40 farmer unions protesting against these reforms for nearly a year now at various Delhi border points

These laws, which are under suspension following a Supreme Court order in January this year, had triggered widespread protests by thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, at Delhi borders.

On November 21, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) -- the joint body of farmer unions leading the current protests -- had written to the Prime Minister to immediately resume talks on the farmers' six demands, including legal guarantee for procurement of crops at minimum support price.


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