The massive farmers protest outside New Delhi was a major topic of discussion in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday (February 4). Yet, in the middle of heated discussions on the farmers’ protest, some light relief was provided for the members of the Upper House, when BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia and his former Congress colleague Digvijaya Singh indulged in engaging banter.
Former Congress loyalist, Jyotiraditya Scindia, in his first-ever address in the Parliament after switching sides to the BJP last year, was eloquently calling out the “double standards” of the Congress-led UPA government on the farm laws. The Congress and other opposition parties have supported the demand of farmers that the laws be repealed.
In fact, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had held a press conference on Wednesday (February 3) urging the government to talk to farmers and resolve the issue, which is affecting the image of the country worldwide.
The NDA government is committed to farmer welfare and will remain committed to farmer welfare, stated Scindia in the Rajya Sabha and sought to highlight what he alleged was the Congress’s flip-flop on the laws.
According to him the Congress had promised reforms for farmers and their 2019 manifesto featured similar reforms. In 2010-11 too, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had written to all the Chief Ministers and asked them to amend the APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) Act enacted by the state governments to bring in private sector participation.
He mocked the Congress for changing their standpoint now and said, “We have to change this habit of changing our stance. Opposition parties will have to change the habit of going back on words. Heads I win, tails you lose. We can’t have it both ways – how long can this go on?”
Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh, who spoke immediately after him, in his turn could not resist taking a jab at him, for his ardent support of BJP policies, after endorsing the Congress stand for over 19 years.
“Scindia-ji I congratulate you,” he said, sarcastically adding that he has done an excellent job of expressing the BJP view. It is similar to the way Scindia used to strongly pitch the UPA’s point of view in the House in the past, he declared.
“Wah Maharaj-ji wah!” Digvijaya Singh added, using the Madhya Pradesh leader’s nickname. To which, a smiling Scindia is said to have retorted that it is all thanks to his (Digvijaya’s) blessings. Singh, was not far behind, as he also quickly came back with: “My blessings were always with you. And will always be with you, no matter which party you join”. This banter between the two evoked much laughter in the House.
In March last year, in a major jolt to the Congress, Jyotiraditya Scindia quit the party and joined the BJP, not before he took 22 MLAs along with him and brought down the Congress led Kamal Nath government.