2 farm bills clear Rajya Sabha hurdle amid protests
Members of the Trinamool, including Derek O’Brien, and other opposition members even climbed the chairperson’s podium after their demand for voting on motion to send farm bills to select panel was not considered.Updated: Sep 20, 2020, 15:34 IST
The Rajya Sabha on Sunday passed two contentious farm bills by voice vote as the House witnessed chaotic scenes after some slogan-shouting opposition members lead by the Trinamool Congress climbed on to the chairperson’s podium demanding a discussion.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, was passed by the upper house. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, part of the broader farm liberalisation plan, could not be taken up and the House was adjourned for the day.
Opposition members, including those from the TMC, Congress and Left, created ruckus after deputy chairperson Harivansh did not consider their demand for a division of votes on a resolution to send the two bills to a select committee. Amid the ruckus, the House was adjourned briefly.
Members of the Trinamool, including Derek O’Brien, and other opposition members had earlier climbed the chairperson’s podium after their demand for voting on motion to send the farm bills to select panel was not considered. They also showed the rule book to Harivansh during the debate on the contentious farm bills.
The upper house was adjourned for a short while.
Several members, including O’Brien, the CPI’s KK Ragesh, Trichi Siva of the DMK and Congress’ KC Venugopal, moved resolutions asking for the two bills to be sent a select committee of the House for consideration before they are taken up for passage.
Union minister of agriculture and farmer welfare Narendra Singh Tomar moved two crucial farm bills in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday. The bills The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. Both of them were passed by the Lower House with a voice vote earlier in the week.
“The two bills are historic and will bring a change in the lives of the farmers. The farmers will be able to freely trade their produce anywhere in the country. I want to assure the farmers that these bills are not related to Minimum Support Price (MSP),” Tomar said in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday.
Agriculturists, who have been agitating against the bills passed in the Lok Sabha earlier, said they are “anti-farmer” and fear they will end the mandi system. The Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Trinamool Congress are among the partied which have opposed the bills.
The Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut had called for a special session of Parliament for a discussion on the agriculture sector reform bills. “You are saying it is in the interest of the people. Can the government assure the country that after the passing of the agriculture reform bills, farmers’ income will double and no farmer will commit suicide?.... A special session should be called to discuss these bills,” Raut said during a discussion on the two agriculture bills in the Upper House.
“Why farmers are protesting in Punjab and Haryana if it is for their interest?” he added.
Taking a dig at the Centre over Lok Sabha MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigning from the Cabinet, Shiv Sena MP said, “The Prime Minister has said that the government is not ending the MSP system. It is just a rumour. So, did a Union minister resign on the basis of a rumour? The government is giving markets to private companies.”
Harsimrat Kaur Badal, of the Bharatiya Janat Party (BJP) ally Shiromani Akali Dal, had resigned from the Union Cabinet on September 17 in protest of the three bills.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad had earlier demanded that reply to the debate on the two bills be postponed until Monday as the scheduled time for sitting on Sunday was over.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, allows the electronic trading of farmers’ produce and the setting up transaction platforms for facilitating direct online buying and selling of farm products. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 provides for a farming agreement prior to the production or rearing of any farm produce.