Oppn meets Kovind, urges him not to approve three farm bills
The parties included the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Aam Aadmi Party , Samajwadi Party, Nationalist Congress Party, Indian Union Muslim League, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the Shiv Sena, and six others.Updated: Sep 24, 2020, 05:26 IST
Opposition parties on Wednesday requested President Ram Nath Kovind to withhold his assent for the contentious farm bills, alleging that the government had “undermined rules, regulations and procedures” in pushing the bill through the Rajya Sabha on Sunday.
“The Constitution of India was torn to shreds in the temple of democracy” by the government, leader of the Opposition in the RS, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said.
On behalf of 18 opposition parties, the senior Congress leader met the President and told him that the passage of the farm bills in the Rajya Sabha was “unconstitutional”, and that he should return the bills without signing them.
The parties included the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Aam Aadmi Party , Samajwadi Party, Nationalist Congress Party, Indian Union Muslim League, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the Shiv Sena, and six others.
Two of the three bills were passed through a voice vote amid opposition protests, with members storming the well of the House and rushing towards deputy chairman Harivansh, who was presiding over the proceedings. They alleged that the bills, which they said would benefit corporate houses and not farmers, should have been sent to a select committee, and that their demand for a division of votes was rejected.
Eight members were suspended for the remainder of the session. Most of the other opposition parties also boycotted the rest of the session in both Houses. The third bill was passed on Tuesday, when the Opposition boycotted the session, which ended on Wednesday, eight days ahead of schedule, amid the Covid-19.
The bills -- the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 -- have been passed by both Houses of Parliament and await Presidential assent to become law.
Azad told reporters after meeting Kovind that the government should have consulted all the political parties and farmer unions and leaders before introducing the farm bills in Parliament.
“The government has crossed all the limits. The Constitution of India was torn to shreds in the temple of democracy. All the rules, regulations and procedures were undermined during the passage of the bills in the Rajya Sabha. We have told the President that these bills have been passed unconstitutionally,” he said.
A Congress functionary said leaders of the 18 parties met twice during the day to chalk out their future course of action on the farmers’ issue. It was after the first meeting that the leaders decided to call on the President, this person added on condition of anonymity.
The parties also requested Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to revoke the suspension of the eight members, but the government insisted that they first apologise for their conduct.
The standoff between the government and the Opposition over the farm bills has escalated with both sides taking a hardline on the issue. While the Congress has decided to hit the streets across the country from Thursday, other regional opposition parties are planning campaigns in their respective states.
Oppositions parties also marched from from Gandhi statue to Ambedkar statue in Parliament complex protesting the anti-Farmers, anti-Workers Bills.
Opposition leaders also wrote to Naidu urging him not to pass the three labour codes in the Upper House in the absence of opposition parties. “It will be a blot on democracy if bills are passed unilaterally,” they wrote.
The Rajya Sabha passed the three labour codes on Wednesday before adjourning sine die.
Hailing the passage of key labour bills, prime minister Narendra Modi said, “Long due and much awaited Labour reforms have been passed by Parliament. The reforms will ensure well-being of our industrious workers and give a boost to economic growth.”
The Lok Sabha was also later adjourned amid boycott by the opposition. Though Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi returned from the US on Tuesday, a party leader said they did not attend the LS on Wednesday in view of the Covid protocols.