Farm bills cleared by voice vote amid RS ruckus, farmer protests

Opposition MPs entered the Rajya Sabha chairman's podium and tried to tear the House rule book

Rajya Sabha
Ruckus erupts in the Rajya Sabha as Opposition rushes to Well of House over agriculture related bills | Photo: PTI

The two contentious farm bills that have triggered massive protests among farmers, were passed by the Rajya Sabha on Sunday (September 20) amid a ruckus by Opposition MPs who entered the chairman’s podium and tried to tear the House rule book.

The Opposition were demanding the farm bills be sent to a select committee for further discussion but the government was bent on its passage. The bills, passed by both Houses of the Parliament, are now set to become laws after getting the President’s assent.

Strong sloganeering marked the passage of the bills as Opposition members, led by TMC MP Derek O’Brien, rushed to the Well of the House. The House had to be adjourned for a brief moment before resuming for voice-voting on the proposed legisations.

Related news: Why farmers from Punjab, Haryana are at forefront of protests?

“They have broken every rule of the Parliament. It was a historic day, in the worst sense of the word. They cut RSTV (Rajya Sabha TV) feed so the country couldn’t see. They censored RSTV,” said O’Brien who was seen holding the House rule book in the chairman’s podium.

Cries of ‘tanashahi nahi chalegi‘ rent the air as 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 were passed by voice voting.

Rajya Sabha
TMC MP Derek O’Brien shows House rule book to Deputy Chairman Harivansh amid ruckus | Photo: Twitter

The bills were introduced by the Union Agriculture Minister, Narendra Singh Tomar, in Rajya Sabha earlier in the day. It was passed by the Lok Sabha last week. Tomar said in the House that procurement of crops will continue at MSP and there should be no doubt about it.

Earlier, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad demanded that reply to the debate on the two bills be postponed for Monday as the scheduled time for sitting on Sunday was over.

The House, meanwhile, witnessed heated exchanges between the Congress and YSRCP MPs during the debate on the farm bills after MP V Vijaysai Reddy of the ruling Andhra party made some remarks against the grand old party, prompting them to demand an apology.

Related news: Farm bills brew up a storm in RS; won’t sign farmers’ ‘death warrant’: Oppn

Reddy, while speaking in support of the bill, accused the Congress of “hypocrisy” as the bill contained the promises made by the Congress in its Lok Sabha poll manifesto. As Reddy accused the Congress of promoting “middlemen”, Congress members created uproar.

Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) said that the BJP should ensure that it doesn’t do anything that the future generations should hold them guilty of. He said it was difficult to believe that these bills are being put forth by the son of a farmer.

Yadav alleged that there seems to be some compulsion that the ruling party does not want to discuss or debate on any of the bills, as it was rushing through these bills without any discussion. “You should have at least consulted the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh,” he said.

Related news: Farmers protest against Centre’s new farm bills in Haryana

TKS Elangovan (DMK) said the bills are an insult to farmers. “This Centre has no right to bring these bills, as agriculture is a state subject. This bill also repeals the ordinance and the promise to implement MS Swaminathan Committee’s recommendations,” he said.

“This Bill is not for the sale of farmer’s products, this bill will sell the farmers and make them slaves of big businessmen. This bill will affect farmers, kill them and make them commodities,” alleged Elangovan.

K Keshava Rao (TRS), opposing the bill, said the agriculture minister claimed this is a bill for new-age agriculture, but was against it. Alleging it seeks to change the very character of the country, he said, “You have made an agricultural country into a corporate country.”

Related news: Explained: Why are 3 agri bills angering India’s farmers?

He said farmers will not have a level playing field as the bills seek to put the poor farmers against the traders. “This government has set out to kill the golden goose,” he said while accusing the government of not discussing the issue with states and people.

Ram Chandra Prasad Singh (JDU), supporting the bills, said that it is for the first time that a farmers’ policy has come after a long time. Singh said that in 1991 when the country saw liberalisation, it missed bringing agriculture reforms.

He said farmers will get different options after the bills are passed. “I urge the Agriculture minister, both these bills are good tasks and agriculture will benefit from it. Please also do research to help increase the farmers’ income,” he said.

PM should explain why there’s a hurry to pass the bills amid pandemic. He should explain what would farm bills do for farming community in short & long term & how it will help in achieving govt’s goal of doubling farmers’ income: Former PM & JD(S) MP HD Devegowda in Rajya Sabha

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