Farm bills in RS: BJP up against odds and adverse numbers

The ‘absolute current strength’ of Rajya Sabha is 243 and the majority mark is set at 122. So, the BJP would need to mop up more support.

Rajya Sabha elections, retiring MPs, BJP, Congress, AIADMK, MDMK, DMK, Tiruchy Siva, Sharad Pawar,
Almost all the opposition parties are of the opinion that the bill should be sent to a select committee of the house.  Photo: PTI File

The BJP is assessing the odds and counting the numbers as the controversial farm bills are set to come up in the Rajya Sabha today.

The biggest issue the BJP faces is from the RSS which has been seeking a minimum support price (MSP) guarantee by anyone who ‘procures.’ The RSS had also sought penal action against defaulters. The RSS is against any ‘hasty push’ to the bill, saying it could be sent to a parliamentary panel or be taken up in the next session of the House.

Related news: Farm Bills: Chidambaram accuses govt of ‘maliciously distorting’ Congress manifesto

RSS-affiliates Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and the Swadesi Jagaran Manch (SJM) had stated that they favoured the law but ‘since it was being changed, an MSP clause could be added to it.’

“We fear that the farmers who don’t get MSP even when there is a government-administered procurement will be denied prescribed remuneration for their produce by private players once this law kicks in,” SJM convenor Ashwani Mahajan told India Today.

The numbers

For the ruling BJP, it is a matter of prestige to get the bills passed in the current session. In the upper house, the BJP has 86 MPs or votes. Counting in the allies of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the ruling front will have 105 votes. The ‘absolute current strength’ of Rajya Sabha is 243 and the majority mark is set at 122. So, the BJP would need to mop up more support.

Related news: Farmers being misled: PM on farm bills that distanced the Akalis

The ‘third block’ in the Rajya Sabha, comprising the AIADMK, BJD, YSRCP and the AGP will play a crucial role.

The AIADMK and the BJD have nine members each. The Shiv Sena has three MPs. YSRCP has six members.

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) had initially lent issue-based support to the bill. But TRS supremo and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhara Rao has now asked its seven MPs to vote against the bill.

He also slammed the bill as ‘as sugar-coated’ pills that will do a lot of injustice to the farm sector in the country.

Almost all the opposition parties are of the opinion that the bill should be sent to a select committee of the house.

The three bills are the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill; the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill.

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