The Congress on Sunday accused Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson Harivansh Singh of colluding with the Bharatiya Janata Party and passing two contentious farm bills in a hurry, despite fierce criticism from Opposition legislators. The party alleged that it saw BJP member Bhupendra Yadav whispering to Singh, NDTV reported.
“Surprisingly we witnessed that BJP members going to the deputy chairman and they are whispering with the deputy chairman,” Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal said at a press briefing. “Not the parliamentary minister. But apart from him, BJP leader Bhupendra Yadav [was] also whispering into the ears of deputy chairman. What conspiracy has been done?”
Venugopal added that Singh had denied them the fundamental right of division of votes. “Without taking the sense of the House, deputy chairman went for passing this bill [the farm bills],” he said. “It is unprecedented. We didn’t understand why he did that. The fundamental right of a member has been curtailed. Why has this happened?”
Venugopal said the Congress has moved a no-confidence motion against Singh. “Congress party stands by the farmers,” he said. “We are moving a no confidence motion against the deputy chairman also because Parliamentary democracy needs to be saved.”
More than 45 opposition MPs have also filed a no-confidence motion against Singh. However, on Monday, Rajya Sabha Chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu said a no-confidence motion against the deputy chairman was not admissible under the rules.
The Congress on Sunday held a press conference shortly after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh criticised Opposition parties for protests in the Rajya Sabha over the agriculture bills and said their actions had tainted the image of Parliament in front of the entire country. Singh called the leaders’ behaviour saddening, unfortunate and shameful.
Venugopal accused the Centre of trying to justify the deputy chairperson’s actions. “In a Parliamentary democracy, the government has the way but the opposition has the say,” he said. “They are not hearing the opposition voice. Government ministers are justifying deputy chairman’s actions and attitude. Today’s entire episode was a conspiracy.”
Chaos rules in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday as the critical bills on the agricultural sector were up for vote. At one point, the telecast of the proceedings was muted as members of opposition parties gathered inside the well of the House in protest. After a short adjournment, the deputy chairperson took up the bills, clause by clause, and passed them. But demonstrations continued inside the Rajya Sabha even after the session ended, as the deputy chairperson had not agreed for a division of votes.
During the tumultuous session, opposition leaders alleged that the deputy chairperson ploughed through the rules and hurriedly moved on to a voice note because the government did not have the required numbers to pass the bills.
Farmers and traders have been vehemently opposing the new bills, alleging that the government wants to discontinue the minimum support price regime in the name of reforms. They also fear that the bills would bring about corporate dominance in agriculture.
Punjab CM says will go to court over ‘anti-farmer’ laws
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, meanwhile, said that his government will take the BJP and its allies, including the Shiromani Akali Dal, to court for the “unconstitutional, undemocratic and anti-farmer laws”, PTI reported. The bills have triggered massive farmer protests in Punjab.
“We will move the court and fight the draconian legislations as soon as they get the presidential nod and become the law of the land,” he was quoted as saying by the news agency.
The Punjab chief minister added that he was shocked with the way the Centre had forced the bills through the Upper House of Parliament.