The Kerala Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution demanding a repeal of the three contentious Farm Laws. Farmers from across the country have been protesting against the three laws, including at the borders near Delhi, calling them “anti-farmer” and “pro-corporate”.
Along with the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) MLAs and opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) members, the BJP’s lone member in the assembly, O. Rajagopal, also approved the resolution.
The resolution was passed in a special session convened in compliance with COVID-19 protocols to express solidarity with the agitating farmers. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan introduced the resolution in the Assembly. The resolution pointed out that agriculture markets are state subjects as per item 28(Markets and Fairs) in the second list of the seventh schedule of the Constitution.
“Since it is a matter directly affecting the States, the Central Government ought to have taken steps for inter-state discussions before the passing of the laws. It is a matter of serious concern that the laws were hastily passed without even sending them for the consideration of the standing of the parliament,” read the resolution.
While members of the CPI(M)-led LDF and Congress-headed UDF supported the resolution wholeheartedly, Rajagopal did raise objections against some references but did not object to it.
“There is a general consensus in the House. So, I did not object to the resolution. This is the democratic spirit,” he told the reporters outside the House.
Moving the resolution, CM Pinarayi Vijayan said the central Farm Laws have been brought about to help the corporates. “The three contentious agriculture laws were passed even without sending them to the standing committee of the Parliament. If this agitation continues, it will severely affect Kerala, which is a consumer state,” he said.
The resolution and the discussions that followed noted that the bargaining power of the farmers is often weak when faced with the power of the corporates. The law does not provide for legal protection for farmers. Not just that, the farmers do not have the capacity to wage a legal battle against the corporates.
There have been calls for a system of procurement of agricultural produce by the Central Government itself and its distribution to the needy at fair prices. However, the laws appear to be tilted in favour of the corporates, with farmers fearing they will take over the entire trade of agricultural products. The Central Government has also not appeared to be too keen to provide fair prices to farmers.
Food security is also an important issue. When the government withdraws from procurement and supply, experts feel hoarding and black marketeering will increase, jeopardising food security.
After the nearly two hour-long discussion, Speaker P. Sreeramakrishan put the resolution for a voice vote and said it was passed.
“Passing of the resolution reflects the sentiments of the House towards the farmers' cause,” the Speaker said.
With PTI Inputs