Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday asserted that the three farm bills have gone through ‘threadbare’ discussion in the House as both Houses witnessed multiple disruptions over the issue.
In the Lok Sabha, leader of the Congress Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury demanded an immediate discussion on the laws and the farmers’ agitation.
“The entire country is watching us. So far 170 farmers have died during the agitation. It seems we have returned to British Raj going by the harassment that they are facing,” Mr. Chowdhury said shortly before the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the second time after loud protests.
Members of Congress, Trinamool, Akali Dal, Shiv Sena, DMK and Samajwadi Party trooped into the well of the House and raised slogans.
While Speaker Om Birla asked the Opposition members to raise the issue during the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address, Agriculture Minister Narendra Tonar said the government was ready to discuss the issue in Parliament as well as outside.
“Today, there were lots of questions related to farmers’ welfare during the Question Hour. If we had discussed them, we would have finished half the discussion. Members didn’t pay attention and precious time of the House is being lost. We all know with what great effort we are holding the session in these COVID times,” Mr. Tomar said.
After two adjournments in the Lok Sabha, BJP MP from Bengal Locket Chatterjee started the discussion on the Motion of Thanks debate before it eventually adjourned for the day.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi’s appeal not to disturb the proceedings didn’t have any effect on the MPs who continued to raise slogans.
In the morning, the Rajya Sabha witnessed four adjournments after the Opposition members had stormed into the well of the House protesting against Mr. Naidu’s decision to disallow the multiple adjournment motions moved by Congress, DMK, RJD, TMC and the CPI(M) demanding discussion on the farm laws.
“I want to put the record straight. People say there was no discussion on farm laws. They were discussed… I have already repeated that there was a threadbare discussion on farm laws in the House. A wrong impression is being created that there was no discussion,” Mr. Naidu said as the Opposition pressed for a debate.
The issues can be raised during the debate on Motion of Thanks for which, he said, 10 hours have been allotted.
To the Opposition’s allegation that Deputy Chairman Harivansh, who was in chair at the time, did not allow voting despite demands from many members, Mr. Naidu said, “People may have their own arguments.”
“But as far as discussion is concerned, every party completed its part and made its suggestions. It is on record. If anybody wants, I can again ask the record to be placed forward,” he said.
The Opposition staged a walkout protesting against Mr. Naidu’s decision. They soon returned and stormed into the well demanding repeal of the laws.
CPI(M) MP Elamaram Kareem urged the government to restore the electricity and water supply for the agitating farmers. Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress leader Anand Sharma, TMC’s Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, RJD leader Manoj K Jha and CPI’s Binoy Viswam urged the government to consider discussion.
The House was adjourned at 10:30 a.m. after it had functioned for 43 minutes. Before adjourning the House, Mr. Naidu urged the Opposition to allow the Question Hour and the Zero Hour, which he said, were restored at their demand.
“Please recall, last time because of the pandemic we could not have both. Many members protested against it, wrote articles and made statements,” he said. Some, he pointed out, also called the absence a “murder of democracy”.
Mr. Pralhad Joshi also attacked the Opposition. “They demanded Question Hour so the government ensured it is restored. Let them place it on record that they don’t want it. They didn’t participate in Zero Hour too. This is highly unfair,” he said.