RS Clears 2 of 3 Farm Bills Amid Protests: Here’s What Went Down

The Parliament session saw massive protests from the Opposition. 

Updated
India
4 min read
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A high-level meeting is underway at residence of Rajya Sabha (RS) Chairman Venkaiah Naidu over the chaos that ensued in the Rajya Sabha, allegedly by MPs of opposition parties, reported ANI. RS Deputy Chairman Harivansh, Union Minister Piyush Goyal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi are reportedly present in the meeting

Opposition parties have submitted a no-confidence motion against Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh after two of the three farm Bills were passed in the House on Sunday, 20 September, amid massive uproar and protests.

While Prime Minister Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh termed the passing of the Bills a “watershed moment for Indian agriculture”, TMC MP Derek O’Brien called it the “murder of democracy” accusing the ruling dispensation of censoring the RSTV feed. “They cheated. They broke every rule in Parliament. It was a historic day in the worst sense of the word. They cut RSTV feed so the country couldn't see. They censored RSTV. Don't spread propaganda,” he tweeted.

This comes amid massive protests being staged by farmers across Haryana who have called for a ‘bandh’ in the state and have blocked all major roads including the highways.

Here’s What Happened on Sunday

On Sunday, the two ordinances – Farmers’ and Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 – were passed by a voice vote and not a division of votes, even though several Opposition parties claim to have demanded the same to the deputy chairperson Harivansh Singh.

House members and Opposition politicians KK Ragesh, Derek O'Brien, Trichi Siva (DMK) and KC Venugopal also moved resolutions for sending the two bills to a select committee of the House for consideration.

The ruckus began when chair Harivansh Singh rejected the demand from the Opposition benches to end the session for the day at 1 pm as per the schedule. If it had ended on time, the passage of the bill would have shifted to Monday and would have given the Opposition  more time for them to move resolutions against the bills.

Following this, AAP’s Sanjay Singh and TMC’s Dola Sen and Arpita Ghosh marched into the well of the House and started raising slogans. Amid the sloganeering,  the chairperson rejected the legislation moved by CPI(M) MP KK Ragesh against the bills, who was reportedly in the well protesting.

More MPs entered the well, a few of them climbed on the table in front of the Secretary General,  mics of both the Secretary General and the Deputy Chairman were broken and Obrien attempted to tear the rulebook. The House was then adjourned for 15-minutes. When it was reconvened, the bills were passed amid all the chaos via a 'voice vote' even as the Opposition claims to have 'demanded' for an electronic vote.

Amid all the ruckus, Rajya Sabha TV went mute for a few minutes, making it impossible to hear the demands and the protests of the Opposition on the bill.

BJP Deems the Bills ‘Historic’ & ‘Revolutionary’

While moving the Bills in the Rajya Sabha, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the minimum support price or MSP-based procurement of agriculture crops from farmers will continue and is not related to the farm Bills. He further termed the bills as “historic” and said that they will bring a “revolutionary” change in the lives of farmers.

“The farmers will be able to freely trade their produce anywhere in the country. I want to assure the farmers that these Bills are not related to Minimum Support Price.”
Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Agriculture Minister

‘The Bills Pave Way for Big Corporate Houses to Enter the Market’: Congress

Congress MP Pratap Singh Bajwa called the farm sector Bills – two of which were tabled in the Parliament – “death warrant for farmers”. Speaking on the floor of the House, Bajwa said, “Farmers are not illiterate. They understand that this is a way to do away with the MSP (Minimum Support Price). Once this is passed the government will come out of this and then Ambani, Adani and big corporate houses will enter the market.”

Calling the Bills “ill-timed”, Bajwa also said that agriculture and markets are state subjects and the Bills are against the spirit of federal cooperative, and farmers especially in Punjab and Haryana think that this is an attack on their soul.

‘All Stakeholders Should Be Heard’: Ally Akali Dal to BJP

Among the parties opposing the farm Bills is also BJP’s ally Shiromani Akali Dal. Speaking for the party, MP Naresh Gujral said that the Bills should not be passed until all stakeholders are taken in confidence. “Farmers are not happy with these Bills. They feel that their interests are being sold to corporates and big business houses,” he said.

Earlier, as the Bills were presented in the Lok Sabha, Akali Dal Leader and Union Cabinet minister Harsimrat Kaur Badar resigned from the government in protest.

As the Bills were tabled in the Rajya Sabha, Gujral also demanded that it should be sent to a select committee “so that all stakeholders can be heard”.

Other parties including the Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party (SP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the DMK also opposed the Bills and accused the BJP of wanting to hurry the Bills through the Parliament without necessary discussions.

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