Sharad Pawar stages one day fast to support suspended Rajya Sabha MPs
The eight were suspended on Monday for the remainder of Parliament’s ongoing monsoon session for storming the Well of the House and charging towards RS deputy chairman Harivansh, who was presiding over the proceedings on SundayUpdated: Sep 22, 2020, 17:02 IST
Former Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Tuesday criticised Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Harivansh for his conduct during the passage of two contentious farm bills on Sunday and said he is holding a day-long fast in solidarity with eight members of the House suspended for protesting against it.
The eight were suspended on Monday for the remainder of Parliament’s ongoing monsoon session for storming the Well of the House and charging towards Harivansh, who was presiding over the proceedings on Sunday. Parliament marshals formed a double-layered barricade to protect Harivansh. The lawmakers were angry as their demand for the division of votes on the bills was ignored. The bills were passed by voice vote while the opposition wanted them to be referred to a select committee.
Pawar called Harivansh’s behaviour objectionable and added it does not suit the reputation of the Upper House. “I have decided not to have food today [Tuesday] to express my support for the eight members of Rajya Sabha. The members wanted a proper discussion on the farm bills but the deputy chairman chose to pass them without discussion and that too with a voice vote,” he said. “I have never seen such a behaviour by a presiding officer in any of the Houses where I have been a member for 50 years.”
Pawar said he is happy that the lawmakers did not touch the tea Harivansh offered the eight lawmakers and continued their protest. “...It would also be a bold statement to make that the protests would bring changes in the deputy chairman’s behaviour and thus I would not dare to make it,” he said.
Harivansh on Tuesday met eight lawmakers, who staged an all-night sit-in on the lawns of Parliament, and offered them tea and snacks. The lawmakers declined the refreshment and appeared unwilling to end their protest even as Harivansh said he will undertake a day-long fast over the “humiliating conduct against him”.
Pawar said the ideas of Gandhi have never been destroyed like this in the country. He questioned the intentions of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government regarding the farm bills. Pawar said there was no reason to clear the bills in one go. “There was a doubt in the minds of the members over the Centre’s intention because it is claiming to make the market free for all and also boasts that farmers can sell their produce wherever they want. But on the other hand, they impose a ban on the export of onions,” Pawar said.
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade banned all exports of the item on Monday following a shortage and sudden increase in prices in the domestic market.
Pawar, who backed the farmers’ agitation against the legislation, underlined his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) does not support the bills. “[NCP lawmakers] Supriya Sule in Lok Sabha and Praful Patel in Rajya Sabha have opposed the bills.” He added he could not attend the Parliament’s proceedings as he stayed in Mumbai to discuss the Maratha reservation issue.
Pawar said he has also received a notice from the income tax department over financial statements he has submitted with his election affidavits for the last three elections. “The notice says that the Election Commission is not satisfied with the details shared and thus the department has sought the clarification. I heard even Supriya Sule is also going to get such a notice. It looks like they have much love and respect for some people.”
Pawar said he has read somewhere that similar notices have been sent to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son, Aaditya Thackeray. He was responding to a question on whether he was being targeted because NCP is an ally of Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government in the state.