The Rajya Sabha is all set for a stormy session on Sunday as the Centre will table the contentious farms bills amid severe criticism from the Opposition. The Bharatiya Janata Party has reached out to its regional allies for support while the Congress and other Opposition parties are likely to unitedly oppose the bills in the Upper House.
The BJP is confident of getting the support of over 130 members, including nine MPs of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and six from the YSR Congress, according to PTI. On its own, the BJP has 86 members in the House. The present absolute strength of the Rajya Sabha is 243 since two seats are vacant. The majority mark is at 122.
The BJP is also said to have reached out to the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti for support. The party’s chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had on Saturday, however, asked his MPs to vote against these bills.
With its allies, the BJP can hope to win 105 votes, according to NDTV. Three Shiromani Akali Dal MPs in the Rajya Sabha, however, were issued a whip by the party last week to vote against the bills.
The Congress, on the other hand, has 40 seats in the House. It is hoping to get support from the Aam Aadmi Party, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.
Farmers in Haryana, meanwhile, will hit the streets to protest against the bills on Sunday. Several groups, led by the Bharatiya Kisan Union, will block major highways in the state from noon to 3 pm, according to The Tribune. Farmers in Punjab had announced on Thursday that they will stage a three-day rail roko agitation from September 24 to September 26.
The farmers and Opposition parties have been opposing three bills – the Farmers’ Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Bill, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill. The bills sailed through the Lok Sabha on Friday. Shiromani Akali Dal, a BJP ally, had vehemently opposed the bills in the Lower House after they led to huge farmer protests in Punjab. Union minister Harsimrat Kaur, who is a member of the party, had resigned in protest against the bills on Thursday.
The bills, which seek to include private players in agriculture, have been critiicised as being “anti-farmer”. The farmers are concerned that the bills will eliminate minimum support price and bring about corporate control.
The Centre, meanwhile, has been trying to allay the concerns of the farmers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said on Friday that the new agriculture sector bills would give farmers more opportunities to sell their produce without restrictions. He also accused those opposing the bills of trying to deceive and mislead farmers. Modi also assured famers that they will continue to get minimum support price for their produce.