Updated: November 28, 2021 7:39:12 pm
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Sunday demanded that Parliament discuss the farm bills before they are repealed in the Winter Session beginning Monday. Not doing so may spark another round of confrontation between the treasury benches and the Opposition, the party said.
The party will also press for discussions on a host of issues including price rise, guaranteeing MSP for agricultural produce, use of Pegasus spyware and expansion of the territorial jurisdiction of the BSF in West Bengal.
Sudip Bandopadhyay and Derek O’Brien, the parliamentary party leaders of the TMC in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, respectively, raised the issues at the all-party meeting hosted by Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi.
“This is how they create confrontation. Of course, there should be a debate before the bills are repealed and opposition MPs should be allotted time to speak. But then you never know what mockery of Parliament this government will make,” O’Brien told reporters, responding to a question on whether the government has given any indication on the possibility of a debate on the issue.
The TMC has already announced that it is not inclined to coordinate its moves in Parliament with the Congress. The party will also stay away from Monday’s meeting of Opposition floor leaders called by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge. Asked about the possible implications of its frosty ties with the Congress on Opposition unity, O’Brien said “common issues” will bring the parties together on the floor of the House. “Yes, there will be Opposition unity in Parliament. It is the common issues that will unite the Opposition. I also must point out that there is a distinction between us and the RJD, DMK and the CPI(M) — they are all electoral allies of the Congress. The NCP and the Shiv Sena run a government with the Congress. The Congress is not our electoral ally nor are we running a government with them. That’s the difference,” he said.
It is learnt that Opposition leaders, including Kharge, questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s absence in the meeting. “The PM did not attend the session-eve all-party meeting for the first time since 2015. But the government did not clarify the reason behind his absence,” said a leader who attended it.
TMC sources said that the party demanded that discussions be held on 10 issues during the Winter Session between November 29 and December 23. “The issues raised are unemployment, price rise of essentials/fuel prices, MSP, attempts to weaken federal structure, disinvestment of profitable PSUs, BSF jurisdiction, Pegasus, Covid-19 situation, women’s reservation bill and the government’s tendency to bulldoze bills in the House,” a TMC leader said. A senior party leader claimed that the TMC’s demand on the women’s reservation bill was backed by at least 10 opposition parties, including the Samajwadi Party. “On the question of disinvestment of PSUs, even the YSR Congress flagged that once these companies are privatised, the reservation benefits will not apply on them anymore. NPP MP Agatha Sangma demanded the withdrawal of CAA. It remains to be seen how the BJP handles its own allies,” the leader said.
“The opposition parties made it clear that the government should clean up its self-created mess like bulldozing the farm bills in Parliament instead of blaming the opposition for disruptions. That strategy will not work,” an Opposition leader said.
Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party leader in the Rajya Sabha, Sanjay Singh, walked out from the meeting alleging that Joshi constantly interrupted him. “I demanded the resignation of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra over the Lakhimpur-Kheri incident. I also questioned the presence of the electricity amendment bill in the list of bills to be introduced in the House. Thirdly, I pointed out that in 2010, a government committee, which had Narendra Modi as one of the members in his capacity as CM of Gujarat, had recommended a law on MSP. That appears to have irked the minister who made constant interruptions. I made my point and walked out,” Singh told indianexpress.com.
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