Hours after the government pushed through the farm bills in Rajya Sabha amid fierce protests by the Opposition, Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien, who was among those who led the charge, said the government “bulldozed” the Bills probably because because it did not have the numbers as parties like the BJD, TRS and the Shiromani Akali Dal had come out to oppose the legislation.
O’Brien said he did not tear the rule book as is being said but added, “I wish I had torn the rule book because there are no rules.”(Follow Parliament LIVE UPDATES here)
He said the right of members to seek voting was “taken away” today.
The government and the Opposition had been holding back-channel talks for some days on the Bills. The Opposition, including the Congress and TMC, wanted the Bills to be referred to a select committee. The Opposition had conveyed to the government that it will seek voting on statutory resolutions moved by MPs disapproving the Bills and the motions moved by O’Brien and DMK’s Tiruchi Siva to send the Bills to the select committee.
Speaking to The Indian Express, O’Brien said the Opposition wanted the discussion to be continued on Monday because it wanted division, in other words voting, on the statutory resolutions and motions for reference of the Bills to the select committee.
“We were going to ask for a vote on each one of them. And voting on each one of them would have taken at least half an hour. Because the MPs are sitting in three different places..there are people sitting in Lok Sabha chamber, Rajya Sabha chamber and Rajya Sabha galleries. It would have taken a minimum two hours,” he said.
“Any member has a right to ask for a division. Just a voice vote wouldn’t do. Unfortunately, that right was taken away and as much as we tried and tried…they just kept bulldozing and bulldozing. A senior member like DMK’s Tiruchi Siva had to stand on his feet to try and say that I am here and I am asking for a division,” O’Brien said.
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“We had moved the resolutions to send the Bill to a select committee. All we asked was allow us our right to have our vote. Win the vote if you have the numbers,” he said.
“Did the government actually have the numbers? If they had the numbers, they could have done the vote… I don’t believe the government had the numbers. If they had the numbers why did they have to put a knife into the stomach of parliamentary democracy? This is to send the Bill to a select committee. If the government had the numbers why didn’t they allow the vote to happen?” he asked.
O’Brien said it is being said that he tore the rule book. “I did not tear the rule book. There is no footage. If anyone can show me the footage, I will resign immediately as an MP. However, I wish I had torn the rule book because there are no rules. But I did not tear the rule book,” he said.
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