Congress and other opposition parties on Tuesday forced adjournment of Rajya Sabha proceedings for the third time in the pre-noon session as they insisted on taking up a discussion on the issue of farmers’ protest over the three new farm bills.
The House was first adjourned for about 40 minutes till 10:30 am. As soon as the House met again, similar scenes were witnessed leading to another adjournment till 11:30 am.
When the Upper House re-assembled at 11.30 am, the uproar continued as several protesting members trooped in Well prompting Deputy Chairman Harivansh to adjourn the proceedings till 12:30 pm.
The Deputy Chairman appealed to the opposition members to return their seats and follow COVID-19 protocols. However, they did not heed to his requests.
Congress, Left, TMC, DMK and RJD members first walked out from Rajya Sabha after their demand for suspension of business of the day for taking up the discussion was rejected by the Chair.
Opposition members shouted slogans to disrupt the Question Hour, forcing Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to adjourn the proceedings till 10:30 am.
As the protesting members continued sloganeering, Naidu asked them to return to their seats.
“Please go to your seats and allow the House to function. Some of you said the last time that not having question hour is ‘murder of democracy’. This is a statement made outside,” he said.
“Members who have walked out and again coming to the Well is not fair,” Naidu said before adjourning the House for the first time.
When the House met at 10:30 am, the sloganeering continued and the Deputy Chairman, who was in the Chair, tried to persuade members to allow the House to function.
However, as the opposition members did not yield, he adjourned the proceedings till 11:30 am. At the time of adjournment, ports, shipping and waterways minister Mansukh Mandaviya was speaking on The Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020.
Earlier, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said opposition members themselves were demanding Question Hour and the government agreed.
“Question Hour is going on….whether they (protesting members) want Question Hour or not, let them place it on record,” he said, as opposition members were raising slogans.
Opposition parties including the Congress, Left, TMC and DMK had given a notice under rule 267 that calls for setting aside of business of the day to take up a discussion on the issue pressed.
Chairman Naidu had, however, disallowed the motion saying the members were free to raise the issue during the discussion on Motion of Thanks to the President’s address.
When the House met for the day, Naidu said he has received notice under rule 267 from various members but the issue can be raised during the discussion on Motion of Thanks to the President’s address to the joint sitting of both houses of Parliament.
The President, he said, had referred to the farmer’s agitation in his address made at the start of the Budget session of Parliament last week.
While Lok Sabha is scheduled to start a discussion on the motion on Tuesday, Rajya Sabha will do so on Wednesday.
“As we are going to start a discussion on Motion of Thanks to President’s Address tomorrow, members can participate and raise their concerns,” he said rejecting the 267 notice.
He said several rounds of discussions have happened between the government and the farmers’ group.
“I understand the concern (of members) for the need to resolve the issue at the earliest date,” he said.
Naidu, however, allowed members who gave notices to make very brief mentions.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting at the Delhi borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, demanding a rollback of the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The protesting farmers have expressed the apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations.
However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring better opportunities to farmers and introduce new technologies in agriculture.
Leader of the Opposition and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the farmers have been camping for more than two months and the issue needs to be discussed.
Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) said the House is not aware of what is going on between the government and farmers and the House should discuss the issue separately from the Motion of Thanks.
“We want a discussion on a specific issue,” he said.
While CPI leader Elamaram Kareem said water and electricity supply to the protests sites has been cut, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva said farmers have been sitting on roads for over two months in the cold and the issue needs to be discussed separately.
Manoj Jha (RJD) said Parliament should at least discuss the issue.
However, Naidu did not agree to their motion after which the members of Congress, Left, TMC, DMK and RJD staged a walkout.
“No one is stopping you from discussing the issue tomorrow. Tomorrow you will get an opportunity,” he said.
Naidu said 10 hours have been allocated for discussion on Motion of Thanks to the President’s address and an equivalent amount given for discussion on Budget.
“Please take the opportunity tomorrow,” he said.