Rajya Sabha Drama As Opposition Rushes To Well, Tries To Tear Rule Book

The opposition held a protest in parliament after the two key farm bills were passed.

The farm bills will help farmers get a better price for their produce, the government says. (File)

New Delhi: Two controversial, big-ticket farm bills were passed this afternoon in the Rajya Sabha amid unprecedented uproar by the opposition, which accused the government of "cheating" to push through the bills. Opposition members were seen rushing to the Well of the House, attempting to tear up the rule book and the microphone of the Deputy Chairman, against whom they later filed a no-confidence motion. The bills -- which the government called "historic" -- come amid huge protests by farmers in Punjab and Haryana, who have called it "anti-farmer". Prime Minister Narendra Modi said passing of the bills was a "watershed moment in history of Indian agriculture".

Here are the top 10 points in this big story:

  1. The chaos in the Upper House started after Deputy Chairman Harivansh Singh said the opposition resolution to send the bill to a select committee was negated and took up the bill for passage by voice vote. The opposition members rushed to the Well of the House, demanding a physical vote and when it was refused, attempted to tear up the rule book and Mr Singh's microphone.

  2. "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 tweeted.

  3. "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," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

  4. While presenting the Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce Bill and the Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill in the morning, Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar reiterated that the bills have nothing to do with the Minimum Support Price. "MSP will continue as before. I had said this in Lok Sabha and PM Modi himself has assured that the MSP will not be tampered with," Mr Tomar said.

  5. Congress MP from Punjab Partap Singh Bajwa termed the farm bills as 'ill-conceived' and 'ill-timed'. "We will not sign on this death warrant of farmers. Agriculture markets are a state subject. APMC and MSP should not be tinkered with," he said. "Why can't you start this from Gujarat first? If it is a success, others will follow," he added.

  6. Questioning the BJP's repeated assurance that the bills will not affect the Minimum Support Price of produce -- one of the key areas of concern of farmers -- former ally Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut said: "PM Modi said the system of MSP will not end in the country and the rumor is being spread about it… So has the Shiromani Akali Dal resigned from the government only on the basis of this rumor?"

  7. The farmers, who have been holding protests against the bills for weeks, stepped up the agitation today. The Haryana farmers are holding a "road rook" protest against the farm bills. Led by the Youth Congress, they are also holding a "Kisan Aakrosh" tractor rally from Chandigarh to Delhi.

  8. Last week, the BJP's oldest ally, the Akali Dal, walked out of the government over the issue. The Akali Dal, which initially supported the bills, said for now, they would support the government but it could be up for review at an internal meeting of the party. The Akalis, who initially supported the bills, changed their stand in the backdrop of pressure from farmers and the Congress.

  9. The government has said the bills will help small and marginal farmers by empowering them to sell their produce at competitive prices anywhere in India. On Friday, Prime Minister Modi hit out at a "misinformation" campaign by the opposition over the MSP.

  10. The monsoon session of the parliament is expected to be cut short because of fears over the coronavirus pandemic. The Lok Sabha is likely to wrap up by Wednesday and the Rajya Sabha will follow suit. Twenty-five MPs (10 from the Rajya Sabha) have tested positive for the virus so far, leading to fears it may spread further still.


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