Opposition to decide on Parliament strategy today, may skip entire winter session
The Congress and 13 other parties may consider boycotting the winter session of Parliament after the bill to repeal three farm laws was passed in both Houses without debate, and 12 opposition MPs in the Rajya Sabha were suspended on Monday.
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Boycotting the rest of the winter session, which began on Monday and will continue till December 23, will be among the options discussed -- along with continuing protests and disrupting proceedings -- at a meeting of opposition parties on Tuesday morning, people aware of developments said.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) will not attend the Congress-led meeting. It called a separate meeting to decide its next course of action, the party’s Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’Brien said. Two TMC MPs were among the 12 lawmakers suspended from the Rajya Sabha for the remainder of the session.
Two Opposition strategists told HT that boycotting the session is an option, but the parties have to agree to the plan. The plan will also depend on whether opposition parties get a chance to demand a law to guarantee crop support in Parliament after they failed to debate the farm bill.
”We would be left with no other choice but to boycott if we don’t get any opportunity to raise the MSP (minimum support prices) law and related issues,” a Congress strategist said on condition of anonymity.
“We will meet tomorrow to decide the future course,” Elamaram Kareem of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) told HT. “We have received suggestions to boycott the session. But we have to talk to our respective parties before talking any collective decision.”
Kareem was one of the MPs suspended for their allegedly unruly conduct in the previous session.The suspended MPs for the ongoing session include six from the Congress, two each from the TMC and Shiv Sena, and one each from the Communist Party of India and CPI(M).
Rajya Sabha’s leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge will meet other opposition parties on Tuesday morning to discuss the next step. A joint statement of 14 political parties, including Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), said, “The floor leaders of opposition parties of Rajya Sabha will meet tomorrow to deliberate on the future course of action to resist the authoritarian decision of the government and defend parliamentary democracy.”
West Bengal’s ruling TMC took an independent stand in isolation from the Congress and decided to take its own call. The party did not come for Monday’s opposition meeting, which was attended by the TRS for the first time. TRS leader K Kesava Rao attacked the government over the passage of the farm repeal bill in the Rajya Sabha,
TMC’s reluctance to attend Congress-led meetings comes in the backdrop of growing distance between the two parties, especially after the TMC poached several lawmakers and senior leaders from the Congress in recent months.
TMC leaders deplored the suspension of their party MPs. They termed the punitive action as unconstitutional and said the accused were not heard before suspending them. “We will have a meeting on Tuesday morning and decide our future course of action within the parliamentary process,” TMC leader Derek O’Brien said.
Opposition parties were looking forward to a debate on the Farm Laws Repeal Bill to push for a legal backing for the MSP framework. But with the bill passed amid din on Monday, they will evaluate afresh their chances to discuss any proposed MSP law.