Opposition parties led by the Congress on Tuesday walked out from both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, protesting against the manner in which agriculture bills were passed by the Parliament and the suspension of eight Rajya Sabha MPs.
Congress MP Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Opposition leaders will boycott proceedings till the suspension of eight members is revoked. He also demanded that the government bring a bill to ensure private players don’t procure food grains below the minimum support price or MSP fixed by the government, PTI reported. He added that the MSP should be based on the recommendations of the MS Swaminathan committee report.
The Aam Aadmi Party and Trinamool Congress were among the parties that boycotted Rajya Sabha proceedings. In the Lok Sabha, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi joined the walkout, prompting Speaker Om Birla to hold a meeting with them.
The suspended Rajya Sabha MPs include 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. They staged a night-long protest outside the Parliament and ended it at around 11.30 am.
Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh on Tuesday morning reached out to them with tea and said that he would fast for a day to express his anguish over their “humiliating conduct”. Union minister Ravi Shankar, meanwhile, said that Centre may revoke their suspension after an apology, PTI reported.
On Sunday, two contentious farm ordinances, which the government claims are meant to liberalise the sector by opening it up to private players, were passed by a voice vote – not a division of votes – even though the Congress, Trinamool Congress and others made a demand for the same to the deputy chairperson. The members of Opposition parties protested against this and called it a “murder of democracy”. In the middle, the audio telecast of the live proceedings was briefly muted.
After Opposition leaders were prevented from speaking in Parliament, the politicians climbed atop tables, snatched the rule book, flung documents in the air and tried to take away the deputy chairman’s microphone to lodge their protest.
Singh, who was in the Chair during the session, claimed that leaders threw paper missiles at him and displayed “brazenly aggressive behaviour”. The deputy chairperson also accused the politicians of “raising tasteless and unparliamentary slogans”.
While the Opposition said the “anti-farmer” bills were passed in an undemocratic manner, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party accused them of disrupting parliamentary proceedings. But neither the Centre nor the Rajya Sabha chairperson and his deputy have offered an explanation as to why a division vote was not allowed on the farm bills, despite the fact that several parties were opposed to the bills.
Farmers and traders have also been vehemently opposing the new bills, alleging the government wants to discontinue the minimum support price regime in the name of reforms. They fear that the bills will leave them at the mercy of corporate powers.