Arvind Kejriwal, AAP MLAs tear copies of farm laws in Delhi Assembly; Opposition decries ‘cheap theatrics’

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Both the Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP pointed out that Delhi was one of the first to notify the contentious Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020 in November. The law allows sale of produce outside APMC mandis.

Arvind Kejriwal tore copies of the Centre’s farm laws in Delhi Assembly on Thursday, Twitter@AAP

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and other Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs on Thursday tore copies of the Centre’s new farm laws in the Delhi Assembly, as a token of solidarity with the farmers protesting against the laws for three weeks now.

The Kejriwal government also passed a resolution demanding the repeal of the laws.

Addressing the Delhi Assembly, the chief minister also alleged the laws have been made for “electoral funding of the BJP and not the farmers”.

“I am pained that I have to do this. I did not intend to, but I cannot betray the farmers of my country who have been sleeping on the streets in the cold when the temperature is just 2 degrees Celsius,” Kejriwal said, while tearing the copies of the three laws.

“I am a citizen of this country first, a chief minister later. This Assembly rejects the three laws and appeals to the Central Government to meet the demands of the farmers,” he added.

Kejriwal further said that 20 protesting farmers have died so far and asked as to when would the Centre “wake up”.

He said the Central Government should not be under the impression that the farmers camping at the protest sites will simply return to their homes, adding that in 1907, a farmers’ protest continued for nine months till the British rulers repealed some laws.

“When asked about the benefit of the laws, every BJP leader says farmers can sell their produce anywhere in the country. But where should farmers go to sell their crop at minimum support price (MSP)?” the Delhi chief minister asked.

“What was the hurry to get the farm laws passed in the Parliament during the pandemic? It has happened for first time that three laws were passed without voting in Rajya Sabha. I hereby tear the farm laws in this Assembly and appeal Centre not to become worst than Britishers,” Kejriwal he added.

He also claimed that due to the three new laws “big capitalists will sell produce at a higher price”, which will lead to price rise.

After the Assembly passed the resolution by voice vote, AAP MLAs trooped into the well of the House, tore copies of the laws and raised slogans demanding that the government repeal them.

Speaker Ram Niwas Goel adjourned the House proceedings till 5.15 pm. When the House reconvened, the AAP MLAs again gathered in its well, following which proceedings were adjourned till 11 am on Friday. Later, AAP legislators also burnt copies of the farm laws on the Assembly premises.

Reacting to the development, BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi accused Kejriwal of being an “expert of U-turns and a champion of politics of bluff”.

“Arvind Kejriwal puts chameleons to shame when it comes to changing colours within seconds. After notifying one of the farm laws in Delhi, he tore the copies of the Acts in Delhi Assembly today,” she was quoted as saying The Indian Express.

SAD leader and former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal also slammed Kejriwal for the move and said he was participating in “cheap theatrics”. She said his government in Delhi was among the first to notify one of the central laws related to agriculture.

In a statement, Badal said the Delhi chief minister was known as a “dramebaaz” but this time he indulged in “cheap theatrics” and “unparalleled hypocrisy” by tearing the same laws in the Vidhan Sabha, one of which he had notified on 23 November.

AAP had notified the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, in November this year, allowing farmers to sale food grains and poultry outside the premises of APMC mandis.

Asking Kejriwal to have “mercy” on farmers, Badal said it is strange that he has suddenly discovered that farmers are sitting out in the open in cold wave conditions and over 20 of them have died.

“The Delhi chief minister is only shedding crocodile tears in a desperate bid to wipe away the blot he has put on his name by rushing to notify the farm laws on the directions of the Central Government. These dramas, however, won’t help. Farmers know that Kejriwal and AAP have never supported their struggle and Kejriwal has always danced to the tune of the central government,” she alleged.

The Bathinda MP and the SAD leader also said this is not the first time that Kejriwal has tried to “befool” farmers.

“Earlier also the Delhi chief minister first notified the farm laws secretly and when this fact came out in the open, he tried to win the sympathy of farmers by going in for a farcical inspection of a few toilets near the Singhu border,” she said.

This latest “antic” of tearing copies of the farm laws has also been done to save Aam Aadmi Party’s “sinking ship” in Punjab where the party has been “thoroughly discredited and become redundant”, said Badal.

“Such low-level tactics won’t help. Punjabis have seen through AAP and will never trust the party ever again,” Badal added.

With inputs from agencies

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