Heated debate on farm bills; Opposition members tear papers, heckle presiding officer


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended new laws aimed at lifting restrictions on farmers on Friday after protests by opposition parties, some farming bodies and even an ally of his Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Rajya Sabha on Sunday passed the Farmers' and Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.

Other Congress leaders also condemned the disruptions in the Rajya Sabha's proceedings on Sunday.

The All India Kisan Sangarsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), an umbrella organisation of over 200 farmer groups in the country, criticised the government move saying these Bills along with the Essential Commodities Amendment Bill will completely stop government procurement. The AIADMK spoke against the Bills, with MP S.R. Balasubramoniyan calling them a way to "disinvest" in agriculture.

Participating in the Parliament debate, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, now a lawmaker, asked Modi to explain the short- and long-term impact of the bills on farmers.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar introduced the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 in Rajya Sabha earlier in the day. However, he did not seek a vote on the resolution and moved on to put the Bills to vote. Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said this decision is always taken with consensus and the House should pass the Bills on Monday.

The Opposition continued with the protest in the Well of the House and some members tried to stop the Deputy Chairperson but were prevented by the marshals. Mr. Harivansh's repeated pleas reminding the members that physical distancing measures need to be followed because of the COVID-19 pandemic went unheard.

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"But they are justifying the Deputy Chairman, and the procedure".

"But they are justifying the Deputy Chairman, and the procedure".

"The passage of both the bills in parliament is indeed a landmark day for Indian agriculture", one of Modi's senior cabinet ministers, Rajnath Singh, said on Twitter.

Some members tore official papers. After 25 minutes, he adjourned the House for 15 minutes.

With government having numbers of its favour the bills were passed.

A war of words broke between the government and the treasury benches. The first point of friction between the Chair and the Opposition was over extension of the session was beyond 1 PM. The anti-farmer Bills were passed in the din without voting.

Her party believes the laws will destroy wholesale markets which ensure fair and timely payments to farmers, weaken the state's farmers and the overall state economy. This story does not end here. "We must keep in mind the dignity of Parliament and honour the chair in democracy", he said. Congress and the Trinamool Congress think they are the "Badshahs" [kings]. "This is the height of indiscipline and intolerance". This is an insult to people's mandate.