Punjab's protest against the contentious farm laws are set to play out at Delhi's Raj Ghat -- the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi -- tomorrow. The protest has been planned by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his MLAs after President Ram Nath Kovind turned down his request for a meeting to discuss the new laws that triggered massive protests in the state.
The decision to meet the President came as the Centre – citing "rail roko" protests against the farm laws -- stopped trains to Punjab, which is interfering with the supply of essential commodities.
Farmers in the state, who scaled down their protests last week after the assembly passed three bills to counter the farm laws, are now upset again over the Centre's new move.
The stoppage of freight trains has blocked the supply of fertilisers for wheat and vegetables and the state authorities have said it is likely to hit all the winter crops.
After the three new laws to block the farm laws were passed by the assembly on October 19, the farmers had moved their protest away from railway tracks. Train services had not been stopped since.
The laws, however, are yet to get a go-ahead from the state Governor VP Singh Badnore. No reason has been cited for the delay.
The three farm bills - the Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 - were passed by Parliament recently.
Amid farmers' fears of exploitation by the private sector, the government has said it would get them out of the control of middlemen and help them get better returns for their crops through direct deals with the retail chains.
The Congress and some farmers' organisations contend that the laws will estroy the minimum support price mechanism, Agricultural Produce Market Committees or APMCs and allow corporates to arm-twist the farmers.