On the fourth day of Parliament session, which is being held amid strict Covid-19 protocols, Lok Sabha passed two contentious legislations ––– Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 through voice vote. Moving the bills in the Lower House, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said they are aimed at making farming profitable and clarified that these bills would not have any impact on the Minimum Support Price (MSP) mechanism, which will continue. He further assured that these legislations would not encroach upon the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Acts of the states.
In Rajya Sabha, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that China does not recognise the traditional customary alignment of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India and that the recent conduct of PLA troops reflects a disregard of bilateral agreements between the two sides.
Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha MP and PDP leader Mir Mohammad Fayaz demanded release of all the political leaders and workers, including his party’s chief Mehbooba Mufti, saying they are under detention in Jammu and Kashmir for over one year.
Here are the top developments from Parliament today:
Harsimrat Kaur resigns from govt in protest over farm ordinances
While opposition parties including Congress, Trinamool Congress, RSP opposed the bills, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur, belonging to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) which is a member of BJP-led NDA, resigned from the government in protest over the ordinances. Targeting SAD president Sukhbir Badal and his wife Harsimrat, Congress, AAP and SAD (Democratic) had demanded that the latter resign from the Union Cabinet as her position is “untenable” following her party’s stance against the agriculture Bills.
Congress MP from Ludhiana, Punjab, Ravneet Singh Bittu, RSP MP N K Premachandran among others opposed the farm ordinances passed by the government terming the move as the Centre’s attempt to destroy agriculture.
“The government is using the COVID pandemic situation to bulldoze agricultural sector reforms through ordinances, and thereby misusing the Presidential power under Article 123 of the Constitution,” Premachandran said in Lok Sabha. “My humble submission to the government is that the bills be sent to the standing committee for scrutiny, otherwise, it will be another disaster for the farming community in India,” said Premachandran.
TMC MP from West Bengal’s Krishnanagar Mahua Moitra said by introducing such legislations, the government is attacking the spirit of federalism. “By legislating on the farm sector, the government has once again done what it does best, that is aggrandising itself the authority that is simply not vested in it by the Constitution.”
Moitra pointed out that the government’s interference in a state issue will create unnecessary ambiguity and rural divide. She also said that the Bill doesn’t have any mention of licence in this new trade area, which will make farmers vulnerable to unscrupulous practices, given that the state governments will not be able to regulate.
Cong MPs from Punjab burn copies of farm bills, party protests in House
Congress MPs from Punjab burnt copies of the farm bills proposed by the Centre inside the Parliament complex on Thursday even as the party staged a protest in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue. MPs Jasbir Singh Gill, Ravneet Singh Bittu, Gurjit Singh Aujla and Amar Singh burnt copies of the bills and said they will oppose the proposed legislations tooth and nail. They also wore black robes, saying “I am a farmer and farm labourer and don’t betray me”. They also criticised the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership for continuing in the BJP-led NDA even after these bills were proposed by the government.
China’s actions disregard of various bilateral agreements: Rajnath in Rajya Sabha
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Rajya Sabha on Thursday said that China does not recognise the traditional customary alignment of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India and that the recent conduct of PLA troops reflects a disregard of bilateral agreements between the two sides. Singh also said that India’s timely actions had foiled the attempts to change the status quo in Pangong Tso.
“I would like to assure Parliament that India will not step back from taking any harsh decision and that our forces are in a better position to retaliate,” Rajnath Singh said,,adding that China has built up war machines and troops near LAC.
During his address, Singh also said that China continues to illegally occupy a large area of Ladakh. “China continues to be in illegal occupation of approx 38,000 sq. kms in the Union Territory of Ladakh. In addition, under the so-called Sino-Pakistan ‘Boundary Agreement’ of 1963, Pakistan illegally ceded 5,180 sq. km. of Indian territory in PoK to China. China also claims approximately 90,000 sq. kms. of Indian territory in the Eastern Sector of the India-China boundary in Arunachal Pradesh. Chinese actions reflect a disregard of our various bilateral agreements,” Singh added.
We reject Islamabad’s obsession with territorial aggrandisement: Govt on Pak’s new map
The government said it has rejected Pakistan’s “obsession” with “territorial aggrandisement” supported by cross-border terrorism, in a reference to Islamabad unveiling a new political map laying claim to Indian territories. While replying to a written question on the issue in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said the Centre continues to respond “appropriately” to Pakistan’s malicious actions and propaganda, including on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, at various international fora. On August 4, Pakistan had released the new map laying claim to union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and parts of Gujarat. “Government has rejected Pakistan’s obsession with territorial aggrandisement supported by cross border terrorism,” Muraleedharan said in the written reply, calling release of the map by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan as “absurd”.
PDP MP demands release of political leaders under detention in J-K
Rajya Sabha MP and PDP leader Mir Mohammad Fayaz demanded release of all detained political leaders and workers, including his party chief Mehbooba Mufti, saying they are under detention in J&K for more than a year. Raising the matter during Zero Hour in the Upper House of Parliament, Fayaz said the special status of J&K under Article 370 was abrogated on August 5 last year and thousands, including political leaders, were arrested on the same night. “…a year has passed. Still many leaders are detained under the PSA (Public Safety Act) or under house arrest,” he said.
Mufti, a former chief minister of J&K and three-time Member of Parliament, has been booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA), Fayaz said. He further said while many have been released, there are still hundreds who are still under detention. “Those who have been arrested should be released,” the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) MP demanded.
Aiming to bring down mortality rate to less than 1%: Harsh
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the government is aiming at bringing down India’s COVID-19 mortality rate to less than 1 per cent from the current 1.64 per cent, which is still the lowest in the world. Replying to a debate in Rajya Sabha, he said the nation’s recovery rate of 78-79 per cent is one of the highest in the world. Adding that though the total cases may have crossed 50 lakh, he underlined that the active cases are less than 20 per cent of the total caseload.
Deaths in India due to the coronavirus pandemic are less than many nations in Europe and the government was determined to surpass the testing rate of the US, he said.
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