While everyone expected the one-hour special Kerala assembly session to have been a straightforward venture, it wasn’t exactly so. While the purpose of the session was fulfilled with unanimous support, the UDF and LDF had certain different takes on the matter.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan presented the resolution against the Centre’s three farm bills and noted that if the protests continued it would negatively affect Kerala, as it is a consumer state. Thus, the CM reiterated through the resolution that the BJP-led Centre must withdraw the three farm bills, which according to the resolution, are “corporate-friendly” and “anti-farmer”. The resolution adds that the Centre had passed the bill in hurry, and without consulting the farmers.
Heavily coming down on the Centre, the resolution notes that the bills will promote unethical and immoral activities in the market including hoarding and black markets due to the withdrawal of the central government from the market. Moreover, the removal of the Minimum Support Price will severely affect the negotiating powers of the farmers against the corporates, leaving the former defenceless.
Revenue Minister E Chandrasekharan said that the Centre is trying to make agriculture a central matter by removing the authority of the states. “The bills would lead to a situation where the corporates will export our food to other countries, while we face scarcity. The farmers would be helpless in every way including legally, against corporates. The Centre will not be able to produce grains from the online platforms that the PM keeps repeating in his speeches,” he said.
In the absence of Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala, KC Joseph, representing Congress, said that they support the fundamentals of the resolution. However, he added that certain amendments are necessary to the resolution. The amendments include adding to the resolution that the matter that the new bills would affect the Mandi system which many ordinary farmers depend on. Moreover, Joseph also urged the addition of criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not participating in the meeting with the farmers. Interestingly, despite a strong stand against the Centre, the CM did not criticise or go against PM Modi in the resolution.
Moreover, the Opposition criticised the state government as well as Governor Arif Mohammed Khan over the denial of permission of convening the assembly. Joseph said, “The actions of the Governor was not right, and the state government should have expressed strong reply to the decision, instead they sent two ministers to Governor’s residence with Christmas cake to beg the latter to reconsider his decision.” He added that a mere resolution wasn’t enough and there needs to be an alternative law in the matter.
On the other hand, BJP MLA O Rajagopal spoke in support of the three bills, adding that the laws would protect farmers. He said that the state’s accusation against Prime Minister Narendra Modi not meeting with farmers is false. “The PM is willing to talk with protesting farmers regarding the three bills, but the farmers refuse to talk without a decision to unconditionally withdraw them,” he said.
When putting it into a vote, the majority denied adding the three amendments proposed by the opposition party, and the original resolution was passed with unanimous support.