Debate not possible when MPs are in Well: Speaker
NEW DELHI, Nov 29:
Parliament today approved the repeal of the three controversial farm laws in rushed voice votes in both Houses on the opening day of the winter session as the Government stonewalled the opposition demand for a debate.
The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021, which sought to rescind the three laws passed last year to ease rules around the sale, pricing and storage of farm crops, was taken up by Lok Sabha which passed it within minutes and, thereafter, it was introduced in Rajya Sabha and approved by voice vote. The whole exercise was completed within two hours.
The bill now awaits the assent of President Ram Nath Kovind for the formal withdrawal of the three contentious laws against which farmers have been protesting for the past year.
In both Houses, opposition parties led by the Congress demanded a discussion over the repeal bill but couldn’t get it initiated.
In Rajya Sabha, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said “there is no need for a discussion” as the opposition parties had been seeking repeal of the laws and the Government was now doing it.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 had triggered a massive agitation by farmer bodies, especially in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
Though the implementation of the law had been stayed by the Supreme Court, farmer bodies have been squatting on roads leading to the national capital from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana for just over a year now.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on November 19 announced the decision to repeal the laws – the biggest policy rollback since he led the BJP to power in 2014.
The laws are being repealed just before Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, where it was feared that farmer protests may dent prospects of the BJP.
However, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) – the joint body of farmer unions leading the current protests – has refused to end the agitation and asked the Government to immediately resume talks on six demands, including a legal guarantee for the procurement of crops at MSP.
The other demands were sacking and arrest of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra in connection with the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, withdrawal of cases against farmers and building of a memorial for those who lost their lives during the agitation.
Just as Tomar introduced the repeal bill in the Lok Sabha around noon, MPs belonging to opposition parties trooped into the Well of the House demanding a debate. They held banners and raised slogans.
Speaker Om Birla said he was ready to allow discussion on the bill provided the protesting MPs go back to their seats and there is order in the House.
“You want a debate, I am ready to allow debate when there is order in the House. But if you come to the Well, how can there be a debate,” he said asking the members to take their seats.
Birla said discussion is not possible when the MPs were standing in the Well holding placards.
Congress leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asked why there is no discussion taking place since the bill was listed for consideration and passage.
He accused the Government of taking the House for a ride.
As opposition MPs continued to shout slogans, the Speaker put the bill to voice vote and declared it passed after treasury benches concurred with the proposal.
The members of TRS, DMK and TMC were in the Well during the passage of the bill. TRS MPs were holding placards demanding a uniform procurement policy and a National Food Grain Procurement Policy.
The MPs from the Congress, NCP, BSP and IUML were protesting while standing at their respective seats.
The BJP, which has an absolute majority in the House, had issued a three-line whip to party MPs to be present in the House on Monday for completing the important legislative business.
Birla adjourned proceedings the House till post-lunch session soon after.
Without taking away the existing mechanisms available to farmers, new avenues were provided for the trade of their produce, the copy of the Bill said, adding that the laws have been stayed by the Supreme Court of India.
“During the COVID period, the farmers have worked hard to increase production and fulfil the needs of the nation. As we celebrate the 75th Year of Independence- ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, the need of the hour is to take everyone together on the path of inclusive growth and development,” the Bill said
In Rajya Sabha, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu rejected notices given by the Congress and other opposition MPs under rule 267 seeking setting aside of the business to discuss farmer issues and adjourned proceedings briefly as opposition members persisted with their demand.
But this was not before the House was informed of the passage of the repeal bill by the Lok Sabha and a copy of it being laid on the table of the House.
When the Upper House assembled, Tomar introduced The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021.
Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge said the Government was forced to take back the three farm bills after suffering setbacks in the recent by-polls and fearing its fallout on BJP’s electoral prospects in the ensuing elections in five states.
He said over 700 farmers lost their lives during the protests over the farm bills in the last year.
But his speech was cut short for exceeding his allotted two minutes time by Deputy Chairman Harivansh who then gave the floor to Tomar. (PTI)
12 Oppn MPs suspended
Twelve opposition members in Rajya Sabha, including Congress MP Chhaya Verma, Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi and TMC’s Dola Sen were today suspended for the remaining part of the winter session for their misconduct and unruly behaviour during the last session.
Among the suspended members, six are from the Congress, two each from the TMC and Shiv Sena and one each from the CPM and the CPI.
The Upper House had witnessed ugly scenes when the opposition members were protesting against the three farm bills during the Monsoon session.
The six suspended members from the Congress are – Phulo Devi Netam, Chhaya Verma, Ripun Bora, Rajamani Patel, Syed Nasir Hussain and Akhilesh Prasad Singh.
Priyanka Chaturvedi and Anil Desai of the Shiv Sena, Dola Sen and Shanta Chhetri of TMC, Elamaram Kareem from CPM and Binoy Viswam from CPI are the other members suspended for the rest of the session.
Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh announced the suspension of the members and adjourned the House till tomorrow.(PTI)