Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
“Farmers are on the street for more than two weeks but their cries fall on deaf ears. The union government can’t go ahead like this, crushing farmers’ interests,” he said. (Ravi Kumar/HT Photo)
Kerala will move the Supreme Court against the new farm laws in a couple of days, said state agriculture minister V S Sunil Kumar. He said that since agriculture falls in the concurrent list, the new laws encroach upon the rights of states and are against the federal structure of the country.
The state government claims to have sought legal opinion and received advice that the validity of the laws can be challenged the apex court. “Agriculture falls into the state list as per the seventh schedule of the constitution. States were not consulted before bringing such legislation and farmers’ bodies were also kept in the dark. We feel this legislation will only benefit big corporate houses engaged in the sector,” said Kumar.
The minister said the state will introduce an alternative mechanism for procurement and distribution of produce, that involves agriculture co-operative societies and self-help groups. “Farmers are on the street for more than two weeks but their cries fall on deaf ears. The union government can’t go ahead like this, crushing farmers’ interests,” he said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has criticised the decision saying it is politically motivated.
“Kerala is not an agrarian state and it will be least affected. The state wants to score some political points.This is nothing but sheer drama,” said minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan, hailing from the state.
In 2018-2019, agriculture accounted for 11% of Kerala’s GSDP (industry 25% and services 64%), and only 32% of the state’s population, as opposed to 58% at the national level identified themselves as belonging to an agricultural household.
As the first phase of local body election is being held on Tuesday, Kerala is not participating in the nationwide bandh called by various farmers’ outfits. Usually in the state, such protests turn a forced shutdown but political parties arrived at a consensus to facilitate smooth electioneering this time.