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In RS, Opp MPs on table as farm law debate ‘diluted’

The protests forced three adjournments of the post-lunch sitting before the Chair finally dismissed the House for the day.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
August 11, 2021 2:46:26 am
Opposition leaders in black in Delhi on Tuesday in protest against “voices being suppressed in Parliament”. (Photo: ANI)

The Rajya Sabha witnessed tumultuous scenes on Tuesday after members of the Opposition took turns and stood on the table meant for the secretarial staff even as others shouted slogans against the government during the discussion on “agricultural problems and solutions”.

The protests forced three adjournments of the post-lunch sitting before the Chair finally dismissed the House for the day. Reminiscent of the raucous scenes witnessed in the House on September 20 last year when the two contentious farm laws were passed by a voice vote, the agitation on Tuesday started almost immediately after the Upper House resumed at 2 pm when Congress MP Jairam Ramesh objected to the “unilateral” conversion of his notice for a calling attention motion into a short duration discussion.

Citing a ruling of December 3, 2015, from the manual titled ‘Rulings and Observations from the Chair,’ Ramesh said that the Chair could not convert his notice on the “three black farm laws” and their repeal into a short duration discussion without taking the “sense of the House”. He also protested the dilution of the topic to a general one of “agricultural problems and solutions”. “This is not acceptable to me, sir,” he said.

While Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said that the treasury benches did not have a problem with gauging the sentiment of the House on the subject, Deputy Chairman Bhubaneswar Kalita maintained that he could not overturn the decision taken by Chairman Venkaiah Naidu. “When we speak of taking the sense of the House, it’s not just of the people sitting that side (Opposition), but also of people sitting here (government). We don’t have a problem,” Joshi said.

However, Kalita called on BJP’s Vijay Pal Singh to start the discussion. Singh blamed the flawed policies of the Congress for all problems faced by the agricultural community. Singh was followed by BJD’s Prasanna Acharya, who defended his party’s decision to participate in the discussion on the ground that boycotting would be akin to committing a crime against the farming community. Acharya was critical of the NDA government’s claims of doubling farmers’ income and said it has not implemented the recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee.

Sixteen minutes into the proceedings, slogans melted into commotion as AAP leader Sanjay Singh climbed on the reporters’ table prompting Kalita to adjourn the House for 15 minutes. Videos tweeted by TMC MP Derek O’Brien show that commotion reigned in the Rajya Sabha as Congress MP Pratap Singh Bajwa also stood on the table and threw a file.

The House resumed at 2.33 pm only to be adjourned within seconds for another half an hour. At 4 pm Kalita announced that the Deputy Chairman had invited members of the Opposition and treasury benches into his chamber and adjourned the House for an hour till 4 pm. The Rajya Sabha.

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