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Maharashtra: Another Victory for Peasants as MVA Govt Forced to Take Back Anti-Farmer Bills

After the Modi government was forced to repeal the three farm laws, the MVA government has decided to withdraw the proposed Bills that are listed for legislative business during the ongoing Assembly session.
Maha

Mumbai: Maharashtra farmers have done it once again. Their unity and determination have forced the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to take back the three proposed Bills regarding farming and marketing of farm produce.

The state's legislative session is going on in Mumbai where the withdrawal of the three proposed laws is among the listed businesses. The three Bills were based on the Narendra Modi government's highly criticised farm laws that led to a year-long agitation leading to their repeal. But after the countrywide farmers’ movement was suspended in November after this historic victory, the MVA government had no option to but to cancel these Bills.

The Maharashtra government had tabled the three Bills in the Assembly regarding the so-called improvement of farming and marketing of farm produce. NewsClick had highlighted the flaws in these bills which were also opposed by all farmers’ unions.

Read Also: AIKS Says Maharashtra Govt's Farm Bills Similar to Central Laws with 'Minor Changes'

The Maharashtra Bills were tabled by state revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat, marketing minister Balasaheb Patil and food and civil supplies minister Chhagan Bhujbal. Farmers unions had criticised the Bills, terming these as 'mini versions' of the now withdrawn Central laws.

The state government had given three months’ time to all stakeholders to register their objections and suggestions. The Bills were introduced in the Monsoon session of the legislative Houses this year. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the key Opposition party in Maharashtra, had said these Bills were just 'minor changes' of Modi Sarkar's farm laws. But, the Bills were rejected by all unions of farmers.

Farmers are demanding that minimum support prices (MSP) be included in the Bills. But, the MVA government has tried to play smart here. In first line of the procurement Bill, it says the agreement between farmers and traders must be equal and above MSP. But the second line says that if the agreement is for less than a period of two years, then the price could be set below MSP. Farmers’ organisations have taken strong objections to this.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a collective of more than 40 farmers organisations in Maharashtra, as well as all-India body, had given written objections to the Bills. They even held various protests from August to December this year. During November 28 Kisan Mahapanchayat in Mumbai, a warning was sent to the Maharashtra government to take back these laws. There could have been bigger agitation in state, had these Bills been pushed further.

But after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was forced to repeal the three Central laws, the MVA took no chances and has taken back the three proposed Bills.

"We have scheduled the repeal of three proposed Bills in this session. These Bills were based on the Central government's laws. But as Modi Sarkar has taken back the laws, we will also take back the Bills," said state parliamentary affairs minister Anil Parab.

Farmers unions have welcomed the MVA government’s decision. "The state government could have taken a strong position and rejected the Bills. But it didn't. That reveals a lot about the MVA government. This new corporate model of farming has been rejected by the farmers of India and the MVA has now woken up to reality," said Ashok Dhawale, president of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS).

"These Bills were nothing but giving backdoor entry to corporates. The Bills were giving control of government's procurement policy to corporates. But as farmers of India have stood firmly against the Modi government, the MVA saw no future for it. It's good that state government has decided to take back the proposed Bills otherwise there would have been one of the strongest and biggest agitations against it," he added.

The revenue minister of Maharashtra Balasaheb Thorat told journalists in Mumbai on Wednesday that the decision to take back three Bills was unanimous in the state cabinet. "We had just opened up the debate on the Bills. All three Bills were open for suggestions and amendments. It's good that the Modi government repealed the laws. The MVA was opposing the Bills of Modi government. This repeal (in Parliament) of the farm laws has shown farmers’ power," said Thorat.

The Maharashtra legislative session is going on and the cancellation of the proposed laws is scheduled in the legislative business. It was expected to get cleared without discussion in this Winter session, but after farmers won a big battle against the Modi government in Delhi, this cancellation of is being seen as a big victory for the united strength of farmers.

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