Opposition parties are slated to meet President Ram Nath Kovind at 5 pm on Wednesday (September 23) to discuss the farm bills, which have sparked protests by farmers across the country.
Congress MP and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad will be going on behalf of the Opposition to talk to the President about the farm bills and the subsequent suspension of eight MPs who opposed the passage of the bills.
Azad had earlier spelt out three demands — the government should bring a bill which ensures that private players do not procure food grains below a minimum support price (MSP) fixed by the government, the MSP should be based on the recommendations of the MS Swaminathan committee report, and the Food Corporation of India should ensure that crops are procured from farmers at the fixed MSP.
“The President has given us time and the LoP in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad will meet him at 5 pm,” a senior Opposition leader said.
Around 16 Opposition parties had submitted a memorandum to the President on these issues. Earlier, it was decided that due to the COVID 19 pandemic, only five representatives of Opposition parties — Congress, TMC, SP, TRS, and DMK — will attend the meeting, depending on their strength in Parliament.
However, the TMC requested their spot be given to a smaller party, saying the fight against the farm bills was a united effort and did not depend on the number of MPs of a particular party in the House. It was then decided that a representative from either the Shiv Sena or the NCP will join the delegation.
However, during a meeting of Opposition Rajya Sabha MPs on Wednesday, it was decided that only the Leader of Opposition will attend the meeting, sources said.
The Opposition parties were unanimous that they did not want to leave any party out, but they also wanted to follow all COVID-19 protocols, they added.
When asked about the TMC’s willingness to accommodate a smaller party in its place, its Rajya Sabha MP Derek OBrien said, “All Opposition parties have been working hard unitedly to fight for farmers, workers and for saving democracy. The suggestion is a small gesture of solidarity from the Trinamool. It’s not just about numbers in Parliament. It’s the spirit of the Opposition.”
Opposition Rajya Sabha MPs are set to protest against the farm Bills and the suspension of MPs this afternoon as well, while the Opposition leaders in the Lok Sabha are planning to meet at 2 pm to decide on a dharna, sources said.
On Tuesday, the Opposition leaders boycotted Parliament in protest against the three bills and suspension of the eight MPs.
(With inputs from agencies)