Maharashtra's Maha Vikas Aghadi government on Wednesday (30 September) stayed its August order to enforce new farm ordinances, that have now become acts after the Parliament's approval.
The move has come after Chief Minister (CM) Uddhav Thackeray-led government's alliance partner Congress threatened to boycott the cabinet meeting.
The Shiv Sena had already been in dilemma over the the agri-reform laws due to heavy opposition from its partners Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) which have termed them "anti-farmer".
However, if implemented, Maharashtra would have become the first state in the country to enforced the new laws.
The three ordinances were: The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Ordinance 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Assurance and Farm Service Ordinance 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020, of June 5, 2020 – all now laws.
As per the August 10 order issued by the Director of Marketing Satish Soni, these ordinances were to be “strictly implemented” – even before the laws on it were passed by Parliament last week, sparking massive protests among peasants all over India.
The fast paced political circumstances leading to the stay order came after a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLC Shashikant J. Shinde challenged the Directorate of Marketing, Pune’s order.
Among other things, Shinde contended that the August 10 order was issued without taking any of the stakeholders into confidence, including the APMCs, farmers’ bodies, labourers, local officials and others.
The matter came up before the Marketing Minister Balasaheb Shamrao Patil who at a hearing this morning, stayed the August 10 notification and posted the matter for further hearing October 27.
Welcoming the order, Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission (VNSSM) President Kishore Tiwari termed it “a victory of the poor farmers in Maharashtra” and the MVA allies Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress who are staunchly opposing the new farm laws.
“This was done surreptitiously by two bureacrats Anoop Kumar and Satish Soni who deliberately misled the minister. I have demanded Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to sack them both for working against the policies of the state government,” Tiwari – who is accorded a Minister of State status – told IANS.
Lauding the state for the decision, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) President Dr Ashok Dhawale said that the farm laws are detrimental to the interests of the farmers all over the country.
“The AIKS welcomes the Maharashtra government move since the new farm laws are ‘pro-corporate’, ‘anti-farmer’ and ‘anti-federal principles’ which trample on the states’ rights since agriculture is a state subject,” Dhawale told IANS.
After the matter was exposed on September 28, there was hectic politicking in the state among the three ruling allies as all have publicly opposed the new farm laws.
Official sources said matters reached a stage where one of the allies reportedly threatened to boycott the CM’s cabinet meeting and top leaders of another partner warned of resignations if a decision on the August 10 order was not taken by this evening.
Even some leaders of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party hailing from farming backgrounds raised eyebrows at the notification, especially since it had come even before the Centre issued any rules, guidelines or framework on these ordinances and six weeks before the Bills were cleared by Parliament amid a huge ruckus.
There was further embarrassment as Sena Agriculture Minister Dadaji D. Bhuse had taken a public stance against the farm Bills, the NCP Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the new laws would not be implemented without the opinion of experts and Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi had asked all Congress-ruled states to work out viable options vis-a-vis the farm laws.
In fact, the Congress has announced an all-India agitation against the new farm laws and a majority of the opposition-ruled states are likely to follow suit.
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