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Lok Sabha clears one of 3 farm Bills, SAD says wasn’t consulted

The Lok Sabha today cleared the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, amid strong objection from Opposition MPs, who termed the move “anti-farmer and pro-hoarder and pro-corporate”.

In a surprise move, BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal said it was “not consulted” before introducing the three contentious farm ordinances. Party president Sukhbir Badal said when the Centre brought the ordinances in June, his party’s representative in the Union Cabinet had “expressed reservations”.

“These ordinances should not have been brought without discussions and allaying the fears of the farming community,” he said, invoking the contribution of his father Parkash Singh Badal as a farmer leader to press his claim.

Sukhbir said: “Before bringing the ordinances, parties and groups representing farmers should have been consulted. In the past two months, I have talked to many farmer organizations and listened to their concerns over the matter.”

He said the ordinances would affect farmers in Punjab and Haryana where the mandi system existed. “I don’t know about others, but our concerns have not been addressed,” he said, urging the Union Government to reconsider the matter.

Sukhbir’s assertion was ridiculed by AAP’s Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann, who said: “I am surprised he (Sukhbir) is objecting to the Bills, while his wife is occupying a ministerial berth at the Centre. They (Akalis) should have sacrificed the ministry if they were against the Bills.”

In his reply, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Raosaheb Patil Danve claimed that the legislation would help farmers progress. He said the amendments to the Essential Commodities Act were made in accordance with recommendations of the high-level committee, of which states like Punjab and Haryana were apart. “Before bringing the ordinances a high-power committee of chief ministers of states like Punjab, Odisha, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh was formed,” he said, adding that Punjab was represented by its agriculture minister.