Suspended Rajya Sabha MPs end sit-in but refuse to apologise; Lok Sabha MPs raise concerns over threats
Opposition parties boycotted Parliament on Tuesday, first walking out of Rajya Sabha in the morning and later from Lok Sabha at around 4 p.m., protesting against the flawed passage of the two farm bills in the Upper House on Sunday. , that resulted in violent protests by opposition members and suspension of eight Parliamentarians.
Meanwhile, the eight suspended Rajya Sabha members, who had staged an all night sit-in protest under the Mahatma Gandhi statue inside Parliament, also ended their protest.
Parliament is expected to adjourn sine die on Wednesday.
MPs from the Congress, Trinamool Congress, DMK, TRS, AAP, RJD, NCP, CPI (M), CPI and other smaller parties boycotted the proceedings of both Houses of Parliament. However, the Bahujan Samaj Party, Biju Janata Dal and YSR Congress did not participate in the boycott.
Though BSP did walk out of Lok Sabha, they distanced themselves from the rest of the opposition. A senior party leader said the party walked out urging the government to make legal provisions to implement MSP.
In Rajya Sabha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the suspension of the eight MPs can be revoked if they expressed regret. However, this was not accepted by the Opposition.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said no one was happy with what transpired in the House over the past two days. “Day before yesterday was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Bills don’t go to the standing committee or the select committee. I don’t approve of the fight — breaking the microphones, standing on the tables. But it was the last straw,” he said.
Mr Azad also said there were 18 parties who did not approve of extending Rajya Sabha timing beyond 1:00 p.m. on Sunday and yet it was done without taking the sense of the house.
The Congress leader also also invoked late BJP leader Arun Jaitely, who has said in 2016 that the government becomes illegitimate if a division of votes is denied.
DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, SP’s Ramgopal Yadav, TRS Keshava Rao, NCP’s Praful Patel all expressed their opinions on the issue, before staging a walkout. Mr Siva said the events of Sunday were triggered by the treatment meted out to the opposition parties. Former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda said things have reached a breaking point, adding that the house should be run on co-operation, not on numerical strength.
Even before Lok Sabha was convened, the opposition parties had decided that to stage a similar boycott.
As soon as House convened, the Opposition benches raised issues of personal safety of MPs who were protesting against the three farm sector Bills passed by Parliament.
Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu said he and fellow MPs Santokh Singh Chaudhary and Gurdeep Singh Aujla were physically assaulted by the Delhi police near Parliament House on Monday night as they sought to light candles in protest at Vijay Chowk. Speaker Om Birla assured the members of an enquiry into the incident.
This was followed by Congress Legislature Party leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Choudhary stating that the farm Bills needed to incorporate the provision for Minimum Support Prices (MSP) and pointed out that the MSP hike for Rabi crops announced on Monday was the lowest in 11 years.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar insisted that the amendments would help the farmers. “The PM had already said that the MSP will continue and yesterday we increased the MSP of Rabi crops. We have disbursed ₹7 lakh crore through MSP mechanism in the past six years.”
Mr. Tomar added that “₹1 lakh infra development fund has been allocated, direct cash transfers are being made to the farmers. I am surprised over the Congress leaders’ protests, given that it had promised to implement the same.”
At this Mr Chowdhary loudly protested against the Bills and declared that the Opposition would be boycotting the House, till the end of the Session unless the government withdrew the farm Bills.
Harivansh offers tea to protesting MPs
Earlier in the day, in an attempt to arrive at a truce Deputy Chairman Harivansh against whom the opposition had moved a no-confidence motion, came with tea and biscuits for the protesting MPs.
“Harivansh ji claimed that it is a personal visit, he came in his own car. Later, the PM tweeted praising him for bringing tea for us. It is very clear, that BJP and their ally JD (U) realise that they are getting alienated from the people because of the draconian law. This tea trip was aimed at Bihar assembly elections,” CPI (M) MP K K Ragesh said.
AAP MP Mr Singh said, we don’t have anything personal against the Deputy Chairman and this is not the hour to strike personal relationship. “We told him too, that on Sunday, the rules and regulations were ignored to bulldoze the two legislation, voting was not done simply because they did not have the numbers,” Mr Singh said.
Lunch and dinner was brought in my other opposition leaders who visited the protesting members. Lunch and snacks came in many installments, one lot of sandwiches and dhokla along with lassi was brought by Congress leader Digvijaya Singh. DMK’s Tiruchi Siva brought idlis and chutney for the members in the evening. Mr. Digvijaya Singh brought in pillows and bedsheets for all the protesting MPs.