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The Hindu
The Hindu
The Hindu Bureau

Amendment to APMC Act stalled in Council; Bill referred to House committee

With numbers not on its side in the Legislative Council, the Congress government saw one of its poll promises - of amending the APMC act - stalled on Tuesday in the Upper House that decided to send the Bill to the House Committee to further study the issue. The development comes a day after the Bill was passed in the Legislative Assembly amid uproar by the Opposition BJP and Janata Dal (Secular).

The Bill, that has been a demand of the farmers’ organisations, proposes to scrap the amendments introduced by the previous BJP government.

After over two hours of discussion, the Agriculture Produce Marketing (Regulation and Development) (Amendment) Bill, 2023, was put to vote on sending it to the House committee, and the combined Opposition of BJP and JD (S) voted in favour. While 31 votes were cast in favour of the committee, 21 votes were cast against it. Senior JD (S) leader Marithibbe Gowda, however, broke ranks with his party members and supported the amendment Bill. Currently, the combined strength of BJP and JD(S) is 42 in the 75-member house.

Demand by Opposition

Earlier, during the discussion of the Bill after it was introduced in the House by APMC Minister Shivanand Patil, multiple members including Srinivas Poojary and S.V. Sankanur of BJP and JD (S) leader S.L. Bhoje Gowda urged the government to send the Bill to select committee or joint select committee as further discussions were required before the Act is amended. The Minister, however, rejected the demand, forcing a vote on the issue. Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister H.K. Patil also opposed the Bill to be sent to committee, citing that enough discussion on the Bill has taken place in the House.

Opposing the Bill, BJP member Y.A. Narayanaswamy accused Congress government of having a mindset to demolish the BJP programmes without adequate studies, and pointed out that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had in the past favoured open market for farm produce due to harassment by middlemen and commission agents.

Not done in hurry

Mr. Shivanand Patil insisted that the government intended to go back to the Act that existed in 2019 before it was amended by the BJP government. “We are not pushing the Bill in a hurry. We had opposed when the amendments were brought by BJP. Both Mr. Siddaramaiah and (former Chief Minister) H.D. Kumaraswamy had vehemently opposed the amendments that were brought by BJP. I don’t know why JD(S) has taken a different stance.” He pointed out that the then BJP government was in a hurry and implemented the Act even before the Centre implemented it.

Stating that those States that had amended the Act under pressure had gone back to the original act and the Centre has already withdrawn the amendments, he said only Karnataka, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh had not done so. He said that 56 farmers’ organisations have petitioned the government to amend the Act, and that this will not lead to harassment. “Currently, the government is unable to asses or track rates and fixing support price has become a problem. The APMC has been unable to control the prices.”

To concerns raised by BJP member D.S. Arun that farmers producers’ organisations (FPOs) could be affected with the amendment, the Minister clarified that FPOs and others can secure direct purchase licence to participate in the trade.

Meanwhile, the Council passed the Karnataka GST (Amendment) Act 2023 and Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement (Amendment) Act 2023 that had been earlier passed by Legislative Assembly.

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