Farm bills clear Parl amid unprecedented drama
New Delhi, Sep 20 (PTI): Rajya Sabha on Sunday passed two key farm bills amid a bedlam as opposition members charged towards the podium of the presiding officer, flung the rule book at him, tore official papers and heckled him over their demand for a division of vote.
The Upper House, which witnessed a brief adjournment due to the pandemonium, passed by voice vote the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. The bills have already been passed by Lok Sabha and will now go to the President for his assent before they are notified as laws.
Trouble started when the sitting of the House was extended beyond the scheduled time to allow passage of the bills. Opposition members, who felt such a move should be resorted to only by consensus, rushed into the Well, shouting slogans against the government and accusing it of being anti-farmer.
This forced Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar to cut short his reply and Deputy Chairman Harivansh took up the approval of the bills.
Four opposition sponsored motions to send the two bills to a House panel for greater scrutiny were negated by voice vote, but the Congress, TMC, CPM and DMK members sought a division of vote on the issue.
As Harivansh over-ruled them saying division of votes can take place only when members are on their seat, TMC leader Derek O’Brien charged towards the podium, thrusting the rule book into the face of the Deputy Chairman.
House marshals thwarted the move as also blocking a book that was flung towards Harivansh. An attempt was also made to pulls microphones away from the chair but the marshals physically stopped that from happening.
DMK leader Tiruchi Siva, who along with O’Brien, K C Venugopal of Congress and K K Ragesh of CPM had moved resolutions for sending the bills to the select committee, tore papers and flung them into the air.
Harivansh, who asked members to go back to their places and not come into the Well due to the COVID-19 protocol requiring physical separation, first muted the audio of the live proceedings but with the ruckus continuing, he adjourned the proceedings for 15 minutes.
When the House reassembled, opposition parties chanted slogans but this did not prevent Harivansh from putting the bill to voice vote.
As the first bill got voice approval of the House and motions for sending it to a select committee were rejected, at least two members tried to climb on the table of Rajya Sabha officers but were pulled down.