Suspended Rajya Sabha MPs begin over-night sit in in Parliament

Eight suspended Rajya Sabha MPs display placards as they stage a protest over their suspension, during the ongoing monsoon session of the Parliament, in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Eight Opposition Rajya Sabha MPs, who were suspended by the House earlier on Monday, have begun an indefinite sit-in protest within Parliament, even as the 15 non-NDA parties have appealed to President Ram Nath Kovind not to give assent to the two farm Bills passed in the Upper House on Sunday.

The Opposition leaders will be marching to the President's House on Tuesday.

Explainer | Why are the Agriculture Bills being opposed

In the resolution, the parties citing Article 111 and Article 90 of the Constitution, have argued that the passage of the two legislations — the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 — was flawed on many accounts.

The joint resolution, states that the issue raised by the opposition parties strikes at the very backbone of the Indian Republic- the community of farmers. "On an issue like this, majoritarian, insensitive and uncaring governance has no role and all stakeholders have to listen, absorb, imbibe and thereafter act with humility," the resolution notes. It then goes on to raise, several question on the process followed to pass the bill, including denial of vote and not taking sense of the house before extending it beyond the scheduled time of 1:00 pm. It also raised question on lack of quorum.

‘Rammed through’

It accused the government of "ramming legislation down the throat of disagreeing Parliamentarians without allowing it to be tested freely and fairly by vote by division."

Watch | Why are the agriculture bills being opposed?

The signatories include the Congress, TMC, DMK, Shiv Sena, TRS, Samajwadi Party, AAP, CPI (M), CPI, RJD, IUML, among others.

The Biju Janata Dal (BJD), which had asked for the Bills to be sent to a select committee for further scrutiny has not signed the petition and neither has the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). The Shiromani Akali Dal, which was initially planning sign the memorandum, backed out at the last minute because it is still part of the NDA.

Soon after Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day a little after noon, members of the Opposition marched to the Gandhi Statue on Parliament premises, carrying placards reading “Democracy murdered”, “We will fight for the farmers” and held a silent protest. The eight suspended MPs — Derek O’ Brien (TMC), Sanjay Singh (AAP), Rajeev Satav (Cong), Syed Naseer Hussain(Cong), Ripun Bora (Cong), K K Ragesh (CPI (M)), Elamaram Kareem (CPI(M)) and Dola Sen (TMC) remained seated in a night-long dharna.

Support to protesters

Lawmakers from all the parties that had signed the memorandum to the President were also present at the protest site, including 87-year-old former Prime Minister and JD(S) member Deve Gowda.

It's a no green signal from the farm world

“We do not need to say anything, India is watching. We are on a silent dharna and we can’t say how long will this go on,” Mr O’ Brien said. According to the sources, on Tuesday morning, the Opposition benches will raise the issue of the suspension of the eight MPs and a decision on when to end the dharna will be taken up after the session.

67-year-old Mr Kareem, who is a diabetic, said the issue is not about eight MPs sitting in protest. “The events within the Parliament, one must remember, is an echo of what is happening across the nation, where farmers have hit the road. Twenty-four farmers’ organisations have come together to hold a hartal on 25th of this month. That unity is a significant development in the politics. The fact the BJP government in Haryana is in danger and one of their allies have walked out shows the significance of the issue,” he told The Hindu.

His party colleague K.K. Ragesh pointed out that till late evening none of the BJP ministers had visited the protest site to initiate a dialogue. “This shows that they have no respect for democratic ethos. Their fascistic approach stands exposed,” he added.

Congress General Secretary (Organisation) K.C. Venugopal, who participated in the dharna said the soul of India has been hurt by the way the government had “bulldozed” the two Bills through Rajya Sabha. “The entire country has witnessed that the fundamental right of a member of Parliament to ask for division was denied. Why was the BJP government reluctant to have a vote? They have killed democracy by suppressing the voice of the opposition,” Mr. Venugopal said.

Senior leader from Samajwadi Party Ramgopal Yadav said over the last many months, the government has been bringing in anti-people bills. “They have crossed all boundaries this time around, by breaking every parliamentary rules and procedures to steamroll through these two anti-farmer legislations,” he said.

Congress leader Digivijayaa Singh brought in lunch for the protesting members, while AAP MP Sanjay Singh brought bedsheets and pillows for the overnight vigil.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 5:45:24 AM |

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