K’taka passes Land Reforms, APMC Bills amid opposition walkout

Karnataka Assembly

Bengaluru, (Samajweekly) On the last day of the Assembly session on Saturday, the Karnataka Assembly was witness to unruly scenes when the Congress members tore up papers and staged a walkout over the Land Acquisition Bill in the morning and another walkout over the APMC Bill in the evening.

Both bills were taken up for discussion on the last day of the House. The amendments to the Land Reforms Act and APMC were later passed in the house.

Launching a scathing attack on the ruling party, KPCC President D.K. Shivakumar asserted that the Congress party had firmly opposed the proposed amendments and hit out at the ruling BJP saying it wanted to enslave farmers.

“These Bills will sound death knell for farmers. Farmers’ lands will be taken away. It is a very bad amendment that they have brought. They have brought amendments to buy lands from the farmers. They want to keep the farmers as slaves, therefore we are opposed to this,” he charged prior to the walkout.

Piloting the land eforms Bill, Revenue minister, R. Ashoka said that the Bill would help youngsters who are keen to take up farming as their profession. “The main objective of this Bill is to help our state’s people who want to take up farming. Nearly 11 lakh hectres of land is identified as fallow land. If we get proper technology and interested youngsters can cultivate this,” he argued.

At this juncture, angry Congress party members tore a copy of the Bill and staged a walkout under the leadership of Siddaramaiah.

While during the discussion on the APMC amendment bill, Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah charged that APMC bill was primarily aimed at helping rich corporates rather than farmers, while JD(S) leader, H.D. Kumarswamy alleged that through these Bills the Union government wants to scuttle the federal system in the country. “This (APMC) Bill is a case in point, where the Union government wants to completely dismantle our federal system. Their first onslaught was in the form of implementing the GST,” Kumarswamy observed.

Training his guns on the ruling party, Siddaramaiah questioned that at present the APMC markets across the Karnataka earn revenue of Rs 600 crore for the state but by agreeing to bring in this (APMC) Bill, the state will lose this revenue once for all. “How are you going to bring back this revenue? First you want to kill these markets and probably want to sell those properties to private players as well,” he alleged.

Joining the debate, independent MLA Sharat Bacche Gowda too endorsed these views and stated the BJP-JDU coalition government in Bihar dismantled the APMCs in their state in 2010 and farmers of that state are still struggling to find proper markets. “In search of proper markets, they are travelling as far as Punjab or Haryana to sell their products. We should stop this,” he appealed.

Co-operation minister, S.T. Somashekar asserted that the Bill was not aimed at disbanding existing markets but to create new markets. “Farmers can sell their products wherever they wish. The opposition is misleading the people,” he alleged.

Upset over these remarks, both Congress and JD(S) staged a walkout, but the ruling party passed these Bills through voice voting.

Farmer groups have been protesting against amendments to the Land Acquisition Act and the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act proposed by the state government. The groups have also called for a Karnataka bandh on Monday.