Congress MP Saptagiri Ulaka
Soon after the Standing Parliamentary Committee recommended the implementation of the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act – ECAA – 2020, two Congress Members of Parliament (MP) in the Committee attempted to distance themselves from the report on March 20, 2021.
According to the Sunday Express, Congress MP Saptagiri Sankar Ulaka (Koraput) sent a letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, the Rajya Sabha Chairperson and the Standing Committee Chairperson stating that he “dissociates” from the Eleventh Report of the Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution.
“The report recommends to the government … ‘to implement the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 in letter and spirit…’ I record my dissent to the report, in line with the stand expressed by the Congress, in both Houses of Parliament and in various press conferences and public meetings, where we have opposed [the law] tooth and nail…” said Ulaka.
Similarly, Congress Lok Sabha MP Rajmohan Unnithan (Kasaragod) also wrote to officials and told reporters that he had not attended the meeting on March 17 that discussed the implementation of the law. The committee meeting was previously postponed twice.
Their statements came following Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s demand for withdrawal of all three farm laws and farmer leaders’ disappointment among political parties: TMC, AAP, NCP and Shiv Sena parties are also part of the panel.
While BJP MP and Acting Chairperson Ajay Misra Teni said the report was unanimously adopted by all members, Ulaka said that he had already expressed his opposition to the three farm laws on December 16, 2020. He said the report was tabled in Parliament without recording his dissenting opinion. Further, he claimed that the meeting was called on a short notice of 15 hours. He called the incident “highly irregular”.
Meanwhile, the report and the Lok Sabha website mentions Ulaka in the list of members who attended the committee meeting. Party colleague Jairam Ramesh called the report a “misrepresentation,” and TMC Rajya Sabha member Derek O’Brien called it a “con job”.
Farmers’ group Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) has strongly condemned the committee decision saying, “It is insensitive to the food security of poor people and the demand to increase the procurement of farmers’ crops. The SKM demands that the ECAA and two other laws should be repealed immediately. We appeal to farmers, labourers and common citizens to intensify their struggle for the repeal of three laws and legal right of MSP.”
Various programmes are being organised across India in anticipation for Bharat Bandh on March 26. Farmer leaders said that the impact of the Bandh will be observed inside Delhi as well and all services, barring emergency services, will be suspended from 6 AM to 6 PM.