Farm Bills Clear Parliament Amid Unprecedented Drama In Rajya Sabha

The opposition, which lacked the numbers to block the bills, had demanded that the bills be sent to a select committee for further discussion.

The trouble started as the Speaker moved to pass the bills by voice vote.

Highlights

  • The bills were passed in Rajya Sabha by voice vote today
  • The opposition claimed rampant violation of rules helped the BJP
  • 47 of them moved no-confidence motion against House Deputy Chairman
New Delhi:

Two of the three big ticket farm bills of the government were passed in Rajya Sabha by voice vote on Sunday amid unprecedented uproar and protests. The opposition claimed the government did not have the numbers and there was rampant violation of rules that helped the BJP. "This does not end here," said Trinamool Congress's Derek O'Brien, terming it a "murder of democracy". The opposition MPs sat in protest inside the house for a while, and later, 47 of them moved a no-confidence motion against Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Singh. 

"They cheated. They broke every rule in Parliament. It was a historic day. In the worst sense of the word. They cut RSTV feed so the country couldn't see. They censored RSTV. Don't spread propaganda. We have evidence," Trinamool Congress's Derek O'Brien later tweeted.

The opposition, which lacked the numbers to block the bills, had demanded that the bills be sent to a select committee for further discussion.  

The trouble started as the Deputy Chairman said the opposition resolution was negated and moved to pass the bills by voice vote. The opposition demanded a physical voting, pointing out that they were sitting in parliament. When the Chair refused, they rushed to the Well of the House, attempted to tear up the rule book and tried to snatch the Deputy Chairman's microphone.

"Mahabharat has broken out inside parliament," Congress's Ghulam Nabi Azad said. Opposition MPs could be seen recording the moment on cellphones, drawing repeated rebuke from the chair.

Insisting that the rules were not being followed, Mr O' Brien, whose point of order was not accepted, said, "This is a brutal murder of the Parliamentary democratic system".  

The house was adjourned immediately for 10 minutes and after it resumed, the voice vote took place amid repeated slogans from the opposition who again parked themselves in the Well of the House.

In a video statement, Mr O'Brien -- who could earlier be seen waving the rule book -- later said the Rajya Sabha TV was "cut off" and censored". "The members of the opposition asked for a vote. We were denied it... It is a historic day, in the worst sense," he tweeted.

In the morning, while introducing the bill, the government had the bills are "historic".  The BJP insists that the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce Bill, and the Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, will bring a change in the lives of the farmers.

Congratulating farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: "For decades, the Indian farmer was bound by various constraints and bullied by middlemen. The bills passed by Parliament liberate the farmers from such adversities. These bills will add impetus to the efforts to double income of farmers and ensure greater prosperity for them".

Another tweet from him read: "I said it earlier and I say it once again: System of MSP will remain. Government procurement will continue. We are here to serve our farmers. We will do everything possible to support them and ensure a better life for their coming generations".

In June, three agriculture-related ordinances were issued - the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020.

To convert them into laws in the current session, the three corresponding bills have been passed by the Lok Sabha.

The proposed laws are expected to provide barrier-free trade for farmers' produce outside notified farm mandis, and empower them to enter into agreements with private players for sale of agri-produce even before production.

The farmers insist the proposed laws are "anti-farmer" and will also affect commission agents and farm labourers.