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Cong makes 3 demands on farm bills for ending boycott of Rajya Sabha

He said President Ram Nath Kovind should not give assent to the farm bills, alleging that proper procedure was not followed in their passage in Rajya Sabha. But, in case assent is given by the president, the Opposition demands three things to end its boycott, either another bill be brought for it or Prime Minister Narendra Modi or the agriculture minister say it on the floor of the House that buying of farmers' produce at a rate lower than the minimum support price (MSP) by private players would be illegal, Azad said.

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 22-09-2020 19:41 IST | Created: 22-09-2020 19:32 IST
Cong makes 3 demands on farm bills for ending boycott of Rajya Sabha
Representative image. Image Credit: ANI

The Congress on Tuesday said its boycott of Rajya Sabha will not end till the government brings another bill making it illegal for private players to buy food grains from farmers below the MSP, all state agencies comply by the MSP and the procurement price is fixed as per the Swaminathan panel's recommendations. The Opposition party also called for revocation of suspension of eight MPs in the Upper House.

Senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad made this assertion outside Parliament while speaking to reporters and said the revocation of suspension of the Opposition Rajya Sabha MPs was not a demand, but a "request". However, earlier, speaking inside Rajya Sabha, he had said that the opposition will boycott proceedings of the House till the suspension is revoked.

Outside Parliament, Azad said the Opposition has decided to boycott Rajya Sabha until the three conditions on the farm bills are met. He said President Ram Nath Kovind should not give assent to the farm bills, alleging that proper procedure was not followed in their passage in Rajya Sabha.

But, in case assent is given by the president, the Opposition demands three things to end its boycott, either another bill be brought for it or Prime Minister Narendra Modi or the agriculture minister say it on the floor of the House that buying of farmers' produce at a rate lower than the minimum support price (MSP) by private players would be illegal, Azad said. MSP should be fixed on the basis of the Swaminathan commission's recommendations and it should be mandated that agencies and the Food Cooperation of India buy farm produce at MSP, the Congress leader said.

"We will keep the boycott going till these demands are met...Fourth (issue) is a request that suspension of MPs should be taken back," he said. The eight MPs were suspended on Monday over their "misbehaviour" with Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh during the passage of farm bills on Sunday.

Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma hit out at the deputy chairman, saying after "brazenly violating rules, procedures and practices for passing bills and making laws, the deputy chairman is shedding crocodile tears for parliamentary democracy". "Token fast is nothing but a farce," he said.

Harivansh on Tuesday went on a 24-hour fast citing opposition members' "humiliating" conduct towards him. Various opposition parties, including the Congress and the TMC, on Tuesday boycotted Lok Sabha in solidarity with the eight Rajya Sabha members who were suspended for unruly behaviour.

Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said all opposition parties are boycotting Parliament in solidarity with the Rajya Sabha members who were suspended on Monday. "You have compelled us to do so," he said.

Opposition parties, including Congress, TMC, BSP and TRS, walked out of the Lok Sabha. Chowdhury did not specify for how long the boycott would continue.

Chief Whip of the Congress in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh listed the reasons why the Congress and like minded parties are boycotting the rest of the Monsoon session of Rajya Sabha. The Monsoon session is scheduled to end on October 1. However, the session is likely to be curtailed with several MPs testing positive for the coronavirus.

He said the Opposition is boycotting the session because of the manner in which bills have been bulldozed by the government and the manner in which eight MPs were suspended without listening to them and without division on suspension motion which is as per rules. The boycott is also due to the manner in which the Leader of Opposition has not been allowed to speak, the manner in which the government has simply failed to accommodate views of the Opposition and the manner in which crucial bills have not been referred to standing or select committees, Ramesh said.

He also cited the manner in which division was not allowed on the two agricultural marketing bills and the manner in which MSP was not made part of the agricultural marketing law and not made applicable to private trade, as reasons for the boycott of the Upper House. A number of opposition parties on Tuesday staged a walkout from Rajya Sabha and decided to boycott proceedings of the House till the suspension of the eight members is revoked, even as the government insisted on their apology.

Among the parties that boycotted proceedings of the House included the Congress, which was among the first to walkout, followed by members of the CPI-M, CPI, TMC, NCP, SP, Shiv Sena, RJD, DMK, TRS and AAP. The Opposition has been opposing the three farm bills -- the Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020. All these bills have been passed by both Houses and await presidential assent.


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