NEW DELHI — Opposition members, including from the DMK, Congress, NCP and TMC, on Tuesday boycotted proceedings and walked out of the Lok Sabha over the contentious farm Bills seeking their “withdrawal”.
Congress Leader of the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury requested the government through the chair to withdraw the two farm Bills which were passed by the Rajya Sabha on Sunday despite objection raised by the opposition. Chowdhury’s request came after the House reassembled at 4.14 p.m. following a one-hour adjournment over the same issue earlier raised by the opposition.
The MP from Baharampur in West Bengal said that the opposition has no problem in participating in House proceedings if the government is ready to withdraw the two farm Bills. “Since 2014, you (Modi government) are in the power. India’s farmers, labour and unemployed people have been passing through worse phase…You passed the Bills here and snatched our right in other House. Nothing can happen without the order of the government. We are standing in the support of our members in other House. We all opposition members boycott the House proceedings. You compel us to boycott the House,” Chowdhury said.
Later almost whole opposition walked out of the House sloganeering “Aawaz Do Hum Ek Hai”, “Tanasahi Nahi Chalegi”, “Modi government hai hai”. The opposition staged walk out after Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar accused the Congress of spreading rumours against the government and urged the nation not to fall in the trap of the party.
The minister said that Minimum Support Price (MSP) will continue and the whole country knows how the government in 2018 increased the MSP at 1.5 times the production cost, which is the chief determinant of MSP after the recommendation of the National Commission of Farmers 2006. The minister later accused the Congress of not making the reforms due to pressure of brokers even as the party’s manifesto mentions the issue.
Tomar said when the Congress failed to implement the reforms for the welfare of the farmers while the Modi government has managed to do it, they are now scared of losing farmers’ support and are spreading such rumours. Similar issue created pandemonium in the Lok Sabha when it assembled at 3 p.m. leading to a one-hour adjournment as Congress raised the issue criticising the government’s step that led to thousands of farmers hitting the streets in protest.
Cutting across party lines, the Trinamool Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party also supported the Congress with leaders Kalyan Banerjee and Ritesh Pandey echoing on the subject. Banerjee said “we are with Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury over the issue.”
The two controversial Bills — the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 — passed by both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, will now go to the President for his assent before they are notified as laws.
The third farm Bill – the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 is yet to be taken up in Rajya Sabha.
Thousands of farmers in Punjab, Haryana and several other states have been staging protests since the government introduced these Bills in the Lok Sabha on the opening day of the Monsoon Session on September 14 to replace the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 promulgated on June 5.
Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal of the Akali Dal resigned from the Modi government, hours ahead of the voting in the Lower House on the two Bills on September 17. However, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla continued the proceedings and took up three labour code Bills moved by the government for passage in the House.