Opposition rejects Venkaiah Naidu’s truce offer to discuss farmer protests

Opposition wants a discussion on Pegasus first; Naidu suspends six Trinamool MPs for the day.

Updated - August 05, 2021 06:54 am IST

Published - August 04, 2021 03:09 pm IST - New Delhi

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu conducts proceedings of the House during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Wednesday, August 4, 2021.

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu conducts proceedings of the House during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Wednesday, August 4, 2021.

The Opposition parties on Wednesday sent out the message in one voice- a debate in Parliament on the alleged Pegasus cyberattack first, rejecting a peace deal offered by Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu. Five Bills- three in the Rajya Sabha and two in the Lok Sabha were passed amidst shrill protests from Opposition members holding placards and shouting slogans against the government.

“The Opposition parties stand firm and united on their demand for a discussion on Pegasus issue in both the Houses, replied to by the Home Minister, as this has national security dimensions”, said a joint statement issued by the Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC), DMK, Samajwadi Party, RJD, NCP, Shiv Sena, National Conference, IUML, CPI(M), CPI, Aam Aadmi Party, Revolutionary Socialist Party and the Loktantrik Janata Dal.

It stated, “The Opposition has also unequivocally conveyed that the discussion on the farmers’ issues and agitations arising from the three anti-farmers and black agri-laws should follow the discussion on Pegasus.”

Mr. Naidu offered truce by admitting the motion under Rule 267 to suspend the business of the day to discuss the ongoing farmers’ agitation following a meeting with the Opposition leaders and the government. The Opposition snubbed the offer. The Limited Liability Partnership Bill, 2021; the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2021; and the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill were passed amidst sloganeering in the Upper House in less than one hour.

Similar scenes unfolded in the Lok Sabha, where between multiple adjournments and repeated disruptions, the Management of Air Quality in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Bill, 2021, and the Coconut Development Board Amendment Bill, 2021, were passed without a debate.

Mr. Naidu, reading out the names of those who had moved notices to debate various issues, informed that he was admitting the notices given under rule 267 (to set aside the business of the day to debate a certain issue) by Ramgopal Yadav and Vishambhar Prasad Nishad of the Samajwadi Party and V. Sivadasan of the CPI(M) over the farmers’ agitation on the three farm laws. “I have gone through it. It is an ongoing issue but important. So it is admitted for discussion,” he said.

Notices rejected

The notices given by Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC), Mallikarjun Kharge and K.C. Venugopal of the Congress, CPI(M)’s Elamaram Kareem and Mr. Sivadasan, and Binoy Viswam of the CPI over the Pegasus issue were rejected.

The Opposition, though has asked for a debate on three key issues - Pegasus, farmers’ agitation and frequent fuel hikes, asserted that the snooping issue took precedence over the other two.

TMC MPs immediately rushed into the well, holding placards. The members have been holding placards since the beginning of the session. The placards are in all major Indian languages -- Hindi, Bangla, Marathi, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Urdu and English.

6 TMC MPs suspended

On Wednesday, Mr. Naidu took exception to the placards and suspended six of the 12 TMC members- Dola Sen, Arpita Ghosh, Nadimul Haque, Mausam Noor, Shanta Chhetri and Abir Ranjan Biswas for the day. The House was adjourned till 2:00 p.m.

After this adjournment, Mr. Naidu met Opposition leaders and Leader of the House Piyush Goyal along with other BJP MPs, both individually and in groups. Sources said he urged the leaders to ensure the return of normalcy in the House after 12 days of continued disruptions. He also voiced concern expressed by the BJD, YSR Congress and other parties who have not been participating in the Opposition protest.

The Opposition leaders too held a meeting at Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge’s office in Parliament. It was attended by NCP leader Sharad Pawar, Congress floor leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Rajya Sabha Chief Whip Jairam Ramesh, DMK Lok Sabha leaders T.R. Baalu and Tiruchi Siva, TMC leaders Derek O’ Brien and Kalyan Banerjee.

Sources said Mr. Pawar forcefully argued that there would be no change in the Opposition’s stance. Mr. Balu went on to say that there was no reason to hold the meeting since everyone agreed to this. The sources said that Mr. Ramgopal Yadav, Mr. Kareem and Mr. Gupta, whose notices on a discussion of the farmers issue was admitted in the Rajya Sabha, also extended their support to the Opposition’s stand on Pegasus.

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