February 6, 2021 1:27:48 am
Rajya Sabha Friday witnessed a war of words between the Opposition and treasury benches during the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address. In the course of the debate, which concluded Friday, the farmers’ agitation virtually eclipsed all other issues.
While Congress and other Opposition parties slammed the government over what they called a clampdown on the protest, the BJP hit back, asking the Congress to look at its past record.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said courts must not keep constitutional matters pending for long.
“Parliament is supreme. When Constitutional matters demand urgent hearing and decision, long delays and kicking of the bucket down the road by the judiciary creates conflict, creates tension, creates distrust. I appeal from this floor… whatever is constitutional, the constitutionality of the laws, whether the citizenship amendment Bill or the farm laws must be decided immediately. Parliament must take notice of this,” he said.
On authorities shutting down Internet at protest sites and disrupting water and electricity supplies, Sharma said, “We have become the Internet shutdown capital of the world.”
Targeting the Congress, BJP’s Rakesh Sinha said, “It is said again and again that democracy is being throttled by the Narendra Modi government… that journalists are being arrested and intellectuals are being sent to jail. I will show you the mirror. I will not talk about the Emergency.”
He said Congress governments had enacted Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Maintenance of Internal Security Act, National Security Act and TADA.
“Had it not been for Gyani Zail Singh… he as President had stopped the Post Office Amendment Bill in which the Rajiv Gandhi government was saying that it had the powers to read every letter passing through the post office… Under TADA 53,000 people were imprisoned and after seven years only 434 were convicted,” Sinha said.
He said poet Majrooh Sultanpuri was imprisoned for two years for his speech in Mumbai criticising the government for taking membership of the Commonwealth.
Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa demanded setting up of a committee headed by a Supreme Court judge for an impartial probe into the January 26 incidents. “You are erecting barbed wires… as if the Berlin Wall is being built… You are giving Delhi borders the shape of concentration camps,” he said.
Sharma also hit out at the government over the economic slowdown, saying growth was sluggish even before the pandemic.
The government is responsible for the situation on the farm laws, he said, adding that the mention of the laws in the President’s address was “unnecessary” and “unfortunate”.
BJP’s Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe responded that the government is committed to the welfare of farmers. “Everyone keeps saying that the government must leave its arrogance but where is the arrogance…. We are ready for talks. We even offered to put it (the laws) in abeyance for 18 months. If we are showing so much flexibility why don’t they (farmers) show similar flexibility,” he said.
NCP’s Praful Patel said if the government is ready to put the farm laws on hold for one-and-a-half years, why does it not repeal them and bring new ones after proper consultations. BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra said water and electricity supplies have been disconnected at protest sites and access to toilets was blocked. “This is a human rights violation.”