Suspended Rajya Sabha members continued their protest on Monday night outside the Parliament. These MPs are Derek O Brien and Dola Sen of the Trinamool Congress, Rajiv Satav, Ripun Bora and Syed Nasir Hussain of the Congress, Elamaram Kareem and KK Ragesh of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh.
The members were suspended by Rajya Sabha Chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu for their “unruly behaviour” in the Upper House on Sunday during the passage of agriculture bills. Eighteen Opposition parties wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind, calling the passage of the bills “absolute and total murder of democracy” in Parliament. They also urged him not to sign the farm bills.
Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha passed the Foreign Contribution Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2020. Congress MP Anto Antony said that the bill will target minority communities. During the discussion, Nationalist Congress Party MP questioned government’s decision to make Aadhar mandatory for all office bearers of non-governmental organisations that seek foreign contributions. Civil society organisations have said the bill aims to stifle the nonprofit sector and called it a “fatal blow”.
Here are the top updates of the day:
9.42 pm: Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, tells ANI that the agriculture bills were passed without voting and therefore MPs protested. “The government and the presiding officer are at fault but Opposition MPs are being punished,” he adds.
9.40 pm: Suspended Rajya Sabha MPs are protesting at Gandhi statue. Eight legislators were suspended on Monday for their allegedly unruly behaviour while protesting against the government’s three farm bills.
9.38 pm: The Congress calls the Narendra Modi government as “ordinance-savvy”, accusing it of promulgating one ordinance after another under the pretext of the coronavirus crisis, reports PTI. Speaking in Lok Sabha during a discussion on the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (second amendment) Bill 2020, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury says the constitutional measure of bringing ordinance should be resorted to as an exception and not rule.
8.08 pm: Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule says she supports the bill. “[Nirmala] Sitharaman had mentioned that in the bill there would be a specific rule to ensure that all Indian investors will be protected in case of cross-border issues...How is that going to be done,” she asks, according to The Hindu.
8 pm: During a discussion on Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020, Pinaki Misra of the Biju Janata Dal says the government needs to distinguish companies that have been affected by the pandemic from other affected companies.
6.59 pm: The Narendra Modi government has increased the Minimum Support Price of crops amid row over the passage of farm bills. “Till yesterday Opposition parties were crying from the rooftop that MSP will go away,” tweets Union minister Prakash Javadekar. “Modi government has declared MSP for the Rabi crop today itself. It has increased and farmers will be happy and assured that #MSPHaiaurRahega.”
6.55 pm: We had clear majority in Rajya Sabha on farm bills, claims Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. He also adds that the conduct of Opposition leaders on Sunday was shameful and irresponsible.
6.50 pm: Ravi Shankar Prasad says the conduct of eight Rajya Sabha MPs, who refused to leave the Upper House, despite being suspended is “illegal”.
6.47 pm: Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad claims that if the marshals had not protected Rajya Sabha Deputy chairperson Harivansh Narayan Singh on Sunday during the protests, then he would have been physically assaulted.
6.45 pm: Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, Piyush Goyal and Pralhad Joshi address a press conference.
5.50 pm: Lok Sabha passes the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020.
5.25 pm: Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule questions the government’s decision to make Aadhar mandatory for all office bearers of non-governmental organisations that seek foreign contributions, reports The Hindu. “What logic is there behind the focus on SBI, Delhi,” she asks. “I request the central government to stop bulldozing people who do good work. There may be a bad apple among the NGOs, but there are a hundred others doing good work.”
Under the Foreign Contribution Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2020, NGOs can receive foreign funds only in designated FCRA accounts in a State Bank of India branch in New Delhi. However, they may open one or more utilisation accounts in any banks of their choice. The bank’s branch would then report to the home ministry the prescribed amount of foreign remittance, the sources and manner in which it was received and other particulars.
5.21 pm: Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai is speaking in the Lower House.
5.19 pm: Congress leader Vincent H Pala argues that the FCRA Bill is against minority communities and is a way to harass them. “This government is not for employment, or for the rural,” he adds, according to The Hindu. “I request the government to withdraw the Bill.”
5.14 pm: Nationalist Congress Party leader Supriya Sule questions the Centre’s decision to make Aadhaar compulsory in the draft law when the Supreme Court has ruled that the unique identity card is not mandatory, reports The Hindu.
4.26 pm: The Congress MP claims that the FCRA Bill will target minorities. He says that all Christian charities are not indulging in conversion, adding that these charity institutions have uplifted the poor.
4.18 pm: The Lok Sabha takes up The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020, for discussion. Congress leader Anto Antony, the first to speak on the draft legislation, calls the bill “another exotic adventure”, reports The Hindu.
3.56 pm: The MP adds that Uttar Pradesh gangster Vikas Dubey should have been punished by a legal procedure. “I urge HM [Home Minister Amit Shah] and law minister [Ravi Shankar Prasad] to take cognisance of this issue and make efforts to improve system so that police stop playing roles of judge, jury and executioner.”
3.53 pm: Bahujan Samaj Party MP Ritesh Pandey raises the cases of custodial deaths in the Lok Sabha. “Incidents of murders in police custody, in the form of police encounters are before us,” he says, according to ANI. “Such murders are threat to a civilised society and have lowered trust of people in Police.” He accused the police of wrongfully arresting the Dalits and Muslims in cases.
3.40 pm: Union Home Minister Amit Shah is likely to move the Bill to amend the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 in the Lok Sabha shortly, News18 reports.
2.40 pm: On Sunday, Deputy Chairperson Harivansh Singh declared that two bills on agriculture policy received enough support in the Rajya Sabha – measured by members yelling “aye” or “no” as loud as they could – to be passed into law. However, the chaotic circumstances made it clear that the voice vote was not definitive.
2.38 pm: Congress MP Shaktisinh Gohil says 12 Opposition parties have sought a meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind to discuss the farm bills, ANI reports.
2.06 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee calls their suspension unfortunate and says the government is autocratic. “Suspension of the 8 MPs who fought to protect farmers interests is unfortunate and reflective of this autocratic government’s mindset that doesn’t respect democratic norms and principles,” she says. “We won’t bow down and we’ll fight this fascist Govt in Parliament and on the streets.”
2.05 pm: Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury criticises the suspension of MPs. “I condemn this kind of expulsion of the members of Rajya Sabha in such a brazen and undemocratic manner,” he says, according to ANI. “We will protest to restore the status quo ante of our members in Rajya Sabha.”
1.00 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says the farm bills that have generated controversy and outrage from Opposition parties are “historic and necessary” for the country to move forward in the 21st Century. He accuses the Opposition of instigating farmers with lies as they “feel control slipping away”.
10.39 am: Suspended CPI(M) MP Elamaram Kareem tweets: “Suspension won’t silence us. We will stand with farmers in their fight. Dy.Chairman throttled Parliamentary Procedures yesterday. Suspension of MPs exposed the coward face of BJP. People will see through the attempt to divert attention from their undemocratic actions.”
10:30 am: Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi claims that the suspended MPs did not believe in democracy. “When the chairman names a member then that member has to leave the House,” he says. “Never before a member defied the orders of the chair. Eight suspended MPs had misbehaved, it was a type of goondaism. They’ve proved that they have no trust in democracy.”
10.07 am: Deputy Chairperson Harivansh Singh orders the suspended MPs to leave Parliament.
10 am: Rajya Sabha Chairperson Venkaiah Naidu suspends the MPs. “I am pained at what happened yesterday,” he says. “It defies logic. It is a bad day for Rajya Sabha yesterday [Sunday] when some members came to the well of the House. Deputy chairman was physically threatened. He was obstructed from doing his duty. This is unfortunate and condemnable. I suggest to MPs, please do some introspection.”
He adds that a no-confidence motion against the deputy chairman was not admissible under the rules. More than 45 opposition MPs had filed the no-confidence motion against Harivansh Narayan Singh.
9.30 am: Here is a recap of the proceedings from Sunday.
Chaos reigned in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday as two 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, deputy chairperson Harivansh Narayan Singh 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 protests against the ordinances, some MPs reportedly broke the microphones on the chairperson’s desk and were seen tearing sheets of paper and throwing them around. While Derek O’Brien from the TMC was caught waving the rule book at the chair, Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh was escorted out by the marshals later, according to the Hindustan Times.
During the tumultuous session, opposition leaders alleged the deputy chairperson ploughed the rules and hurriedly moved on to a voice note because the government did not have the requisite numbers for passage of the bills.
At a press conference held hours after the session, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh criticised the opposition leaders for their behaviour and said their unprecedented “drama” was an “attempt to confuse farmers”. “As far as I know, this has never happened in the history of Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha,” the defence minister had said. “This happening in Rajya Sabha is an even bigger matter. Attempts are being made to mislead the farmers on the basis of rumours.”
“What happened in Rajya Sabha today was saddening, unfortunate and shameful,” Singh had said. “It is the responsibility of the ruling side to enable discussions in the House but it is also the duty of the Opposition to maintain decorum.”
The defence minister added: “I’m also a farmer, never believe government will hurt farmers.”
Later in the day, O’Brien released a video, accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of steamrolling the ordinances through Parliament without allowing for a proper discussion. In his video, O’Brien pointed out that the rules dictate that even if one member of the House asks for a resolution to be put to vote, it should be.
“The chair has to grant you that right,” O’ Brien added. “But today unbelievably the right was taken away from the opposition. That is a serious breach of parliamentary rules and parliamentary democracy. This is like taking the parliamentary democracy, shoving a knife inside it and killing it.