Kerala: Amid protests by farmers at Delhi borders seeking repeal of farm laws passed this year in September, the Kerala Legislative Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution seeking the withdrawal of all the three contentious agricultural laws enacted hurriedly by parliament this year in September.

According to a report by a Delhi-based news organisation NDTV, raising the state’s fears over the effects of prolonged tumult in the country’s farm sector, the resolution said: “Kerala could not bear the impact of such a situation, particularly amid the ravaging COVID pandemic”.

Interestingly, the report said, even the BJP’s lone member in the House did not oppose the resolution during voting even though it was attacking laws brought in by his own party’s government.

The new farm laws have set off a furious bout of protests among farmers of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and other states that is yet to abate even more than a month later.

“There should be a system where agricultural products are procured by the Central government and distributed to the needy at fair prices. Instead, it has allowed corporates to take over the trade in agricultural products. The Centre is shirking its responsibility of providing fair prices to farmers,” the report quoted Kerala Chief Minister Vijayan saying today, tabling the resolution in the House.

“If these protests continue, it will affect Kerala badly. If agriculture produce stops coming to a consumer state like Kerala, the state will be pushed towards hunger,” he was quoted further saying.

The report quoting the state’s Chief Minister said, farmers are worried about losing the current support price, which could leave them weakened bargaining power before the strength of corporate entities.

“Considering all this, the Kerala Legislative Assembly is requesting the Central government to cancel these three farm laws and accept the demands by farmers,” Mr Vijayan said, referring to their ongoing protest as “historic”.

Interestingly, a key contention of the protesting farmers, India’s long-standing Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) system, which primarily aimed at ensuring farmers’ financial security, is not followed in Kerala. The state has an alternative system involving horticorp outlets and vegetable and fruit-promotion councils, NDTV reported.

Yet, the resolution was passed by the House unanimously, with the BJP’s lone member, O Rajagopal, despite being the only dissenter, not objecting during the vote. “I did not vote…I support this resolution. We have certain differences over some arguments that they have put forward…I support the substance of the resolution,” the report quoted Rajagopal saying after the session.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front opposition combine backed the protesting farmers. “The Prime Minister speaks on TV and casts aspersions on farmers. He should have called the farmers and spoken to them. I salute our farmers,” it quoted former state minister KC Joseph of the Congress as saying.

The opposition moved three minor amendments to the resolution today, of which one was accommodated by the government.

 

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