The winter session of Parliament began on a stormy note Monday when the Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021, cleared the two Houses via voice votes without any discussion. The Bill sailed through amid Opposition demand for a debate on issues raised by farmers protesting against the three new agriculture laws being withdrawn by the government.
The Lok Sabha passed the Bill in the first half of the proceedings amid vociferous demands for a discussion. And in the Rajya Sabha, it was passed minutes after resumption of the post-lunch session.
Claiming that the Bill had been brought in with consensus, that it did not have any clause to discuss and that a debate would have no tangible results, the treasury benches rejected demands of the Opposition, which was keen to target the government over the delay in withdrawal of the laws given that farmer protests began more than a year ago and some demands, including legal guarantee for MSP, are still being raised.
In Lok Sabha, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar introduced and tabled the Bill for consideration and passing. Members of the TMC and DMK came to the Well, seeking a discussion while Congress MPs, who were there initially, returned to their seats to let their leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury speak on their behalf.
“When it is listed as consideration and passing of the Bill, why can’t there be a debate? This government, since 2014, has been passing and repealing Bills without any discussion. You have taken this House for a ride,” Chowdhary alleged.
The Speaker said there could be discussions later but there had to be decorum in the House. He repeatedly said that the House had to be in order for a debate.
Chowdhury’s party colleague Mallikarjun Kharge told Rajya Sabha that everyone “welcomes” the repeal Bill, and that nobody is against it. But, he said, it took the government a year and three months to take back the three “black” laws.
Kharge said when the three farm Bills were brought to Parliament for discussion, “all members, whether from Lower or Upper House, NGOs and farmer unions, protested.. they said it is not in the favour of farmers, it will be against them”.
He accused the government of repealing the laws only due to electoral compulsions. He said the ruling BJP was impacted in the recent by-elections in several states “and then there are elections in five states” coming up, and that the government feels it will have an impact in these elections too.
Tomar maintained that the “government had brought the three Bills for the betterment of the farmers” but “we are sad that sometimes, even after trying… even after Congress mentioned it in their manifesto but had a hypocritical attitude towards it… we were unable to convince the farmers during our discussions”.
He said the Prime Minister “demonstrated historic magnanimity,” and announced the repeal of the laws on Guru Nanak Dev Jayanti. “This shows unity in the Prime Minister’s words and actions,” he said.
“We have come here to repeal the laws, the government is ready and the Opposition has been demanding. Therefore, there is no need to discuss it and the repeal Bill should be passed,” Tomar said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh were present in Lok Sabha when the Bill was passed. Modi was in Lok Sabha when it met in the morning but did not return to the House when proceedings resumed after a brief adjournment at noon.
The start of the session in Lok Sabha saw Opposition MPs rush to the Well, raising various issues. While Congress and TMC MPs raised slogans in support of farmers, DMK’s T R Baalu demanded that the House pass a resolution condoling the death of farmers during the agitation against the farm laws. In Rajya Sabha too, members were in the Well of the House, holding placards demanding uniform procurement policy.
Outside Parliament House, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi criticised the government’s move to pass the repeal Bill without discussion.
“Earlier, we had said that the government will have to withdraw the farm laws, and today these laws were repealed. It is unfortunate that the farm laws were repealed without discussion. This government is scared of holding a discussion,” he said.
The Opposition intensified its protests in the afternoon in Lok Sabha while Rajya Sabha descended into chaos after a motion was moved to suspend 12 Opposition MPs over their behaviour during the monsoon session.
Earlier in the day, before the two Houses met, Prime Minister Modi said the government was ready to discuss all issues in the House. Discussions, and not disruptions, should be the yardstick on which the success of Parliament must be weighed, he said.
“Our government is ready to answer all questions during the winter session of Parliament,” he said. Stating that the dignity of the House and the Chair must be maintained, Modi said: “We should debate in Parliament, and maintain the decorum of the proceedings. “Sawal bhi, shanti bhi (ask questions, maintain order),” he said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.