NEW DELHI, Nov 29 (Reuters) - India's parliament on Monday
passed a bill to repeal three laws aiming at deregulating
agricultural markets, bowing to pressure from farmers who have
protested for over a year to demand that the laws be rolled
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration introduced the
farm bills last year through an executive order, traditionally
reserved for emergency legislation, triggering India's
longest-running farmers' protest. Parliament then passed the
legislation via a voice vote, drawing widespread criticism that
it had rushed through the laws without proper debate.
In a bid to end the protests ahead of the state assembly
election in India's most populous Uttar Pradesh state early next
year, Modi said this month his government would repeal the laws
in the new session of parliament.
As parliament reconvened for its winter session on Monday,
both the lower and upper houses passed the bill to withdraw the
laws meant to deregulate and open up agricultural markets to
companies. Farmers have said the laws would leave them with
scant bargaining power against big private purchasers.
The controversial laws saw tens of thousands of people,
including many elderly growers and women farmers, brave extreme
weather and a severe second wave of coronavirus infections to
camp out on the outskirts of New Delhi over the past year.
In addition to their repeal demand, protesting farmers are
also asking that Modi's administration introduce a law to secure
government prices for produces beyond just rice and wheat.
The government currently buys rice and wheat at state-set
Minimum Support Prices (MSPs), but the subsidies only benefit
about 6% of India's millions of farmers.
Protesters are demanding MSPs for all crops - a move that
has galvanised growers across the country and taken the protest
beyond India's grain-growing states of Punjab and Haryana.
The government has not yet made any comment on the
protesters' demand for MSPs.
Farmers celebrated the development but said the protest
would only be called off when the government promised
legislation on MSPs for all produce.
(Writing by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)