Watershed moment in history of agriculture: PM on passage of farm bills

TMC MP Derek O'Brien said that Opposition MPs are now sitting on dharna inside the Rajya Sabha

There is growing pressure on the Narendra Modi government by the industry to start trade talks with Taiwan | File Photo: Twitter

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday (September 20) hailed the passage of two farm bills in the Parliament as a “watershed moment in the history of Indian agriculture”, even as strong protests rocked the Rajya Sabha with Opposition MPs resorting to a dharna.

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 Rajya Sabha today. The Lok Sabha had cleared them last week.

Passed amid strong protests and sloganeering by the Opposition members, who entered the chairman’s podium and tried to tear a copy of the House rule book, the bills are now set to become laws after getting the President’s assent.

The PM said: “A watershed moment in the history of Indian agriculture! Congratulations to our hardworking farmers on the passage of key bills in Parliament, which will ensure a complete transformation of the agriculture sector as well as empower crores of farmers.”

Modi said that for decades, the Indian farmer was bound by various constraints and bullied by middlemen. “The bills passed by Parliament liberate the farmers from such adversities,” said the prime minister in another tweet.

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

“These bills will add impetus to the efforts to double income of farmers and ensure greater prosperity for them,” said Modi, adding that the system of Minimum Support Prince (MSP) will remain and that government procurement will continue.

“Our agriculture sector is in desperate need of latest technology that assists the industrious farmers. Now, with the passage of the bills, our farmers will have easier access to futuristic technology that will boost production and yield better results,” he said.

Hailing the passage of the farm bills, BJP president JP Nadda said the government under the leadership of Narendra Modi has liberated the farmers from injustice they were facing for the last 70 years.

Rajya Sabha MPs of Opposition parties protest after the farm bills were passed in the Rajya Sabha | Photo: Twitter

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

“The Opposition parties are anti-farmers. Instead of being part of the process, they tried to obstruct the liberation of farmers. BJP condemns their act,” he said, adding that Opposition members also violated COVID-19 protocols by storming the Well of the House.

Ruckus prevailed in the Upper House earlier in the day after Deputy Chairman Harivansh overruled opposition pleas for postponing the agriculture minister’s reply to the debate on the two bills till Monday as the scheduled sitting time of the House was over.

As the Chair took clause-by-clause passage of the bills, Opposition members climbed on to the podium. Some members tore official papers. Amid unruly scenes prevailed, the mikes in the House were muted and the proceedings were adjourned for around 15 minutes.

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

Meanwhile, after the House was adjourned for the day, Congress MP Ahmed Patel said the way these bills have been passed goes against democratic processes. He further said that 12 Opposition parties have moved a no-confidence motion against Harivansh.

“He (Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh) should safeguard the democratic traditions, but instead, his attitude today harmed the democratic traditions and processes,” Patel said.

The Opposition MPs also staged a protest against the passage of the bills at the Parliament premises on Sunday.P

Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien, who was seen climbing on to the chairman’s podium with the House rule book in his hand, later shared two videos and said that Opposition MPs are now sitting on dharna inside the Rajya Sabha.

“They cheated. They broke every rule in Parliament. It was a historic day. In the worst sense of the word. They cut RSTV feed so the country couldn’t see. They censored RSTV. Don’t spread propaganda. We have evidence,” he said in a tweet.

“Yes. An Opposition MP broke a microphone in the Rajya Sabha. Today, BJP tried to break the back of yet another great institution of our democracy #Parliament Basic rights of MPs guaranteed by Constitution snatched. No vote allowed in RS on #farmersbill (sic),” he said.

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