Parliament has passed legislation pushed by the Narendra Modi government to bring about reforms in the way agricultural produce is marketed. The Rajya Sabha, the upper House of Parliament, adopted two bills for this at its sitting on Sunday,September 20. The bills were declared passed by voice vote in the midst of chaos . The opposition demands for sending the bills to a select committee for detailed scrutiny were not accepted or voted upon.
The opposition is crying foul over the way in which the bills were declared passed. Reports say that 12 opposition parties have decided to move for removal of the Deputy Chairman, who was presiding over the house when the bills were declared adopted.The question arises what does the legislation basically aim to achieve. In a nutshell, the bills hailed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as far reaching reforms provide that farmers need not necessarily bring their produce to the mandis but can transport and sell it wherever they want.
The government point of view is that this will enable the farmer to get a better price for his produce. The bills pushed by the Narendra Modi dispensation also have enabling provisions for contract farming. This may in course of time bring the corporate sector into farming in a big way.
Farmers in several states, especially Punjab and Haryana, are opposing the legislation as they suspect that it will eventually lead to the dismantling of the minimum support price structure. The MSP framework assures the farmer of a pre determined price for crops such as wheat and paddy.To reassure the farmers, the Narendra Modi dispensation has been asserting that the msp structure will remain unaffected by the reform of the agricultural produce markets. But there are no takers among the farmers for the farm sector reform agenda of the government.
It appears that large sections of the farming community have no trust in the government assertions that its interests will be protected in the new scenario. Basically, the Narendra Modi dispensation is facing a serious trust deficit, which the opposition is naturally trying to exploit.It is for the government now to win back the trust of the farmers.