Take a stand on farm Bills, Congress exhorts BJP allies

Congress leader Randeep Surjewala. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

A day after the exit of Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal from the Narendra Modi Cabinet, the Congress exhorted all other BJP allies and friendly parties to decide their stand on the three agriculture-related Bills. The Bills will come before the Rajya Sabha next, where the Opposition does not have the numbers to stall it.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters in Delhi on Friday that Bihar Chief Minister and JD (U) president Nitish Kumar, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the YSR Congress Party, the AIADMK and all other parties would have to take a stand on the issue. “They will have to decide on whose side they like to stand. Are they with the farmers or against them,” Mr. Surjewala said.

The Congress’s comment comes on a day the Lok Sabha has passed the three controversial Bills, which will come up in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday. The BJP is the single largest party in the Rajya Sabha with 86 members. The gap between the Congress (40 MPs) and other like-minded parties and the NDA allies is far too big. And the thin attendance, mostly, in the opposition benches, adds to this difference.

For example, from the Trinamool Congress, which is the second largest opposition party in the Rajya Sabha with 13 members, only six are present at any given point of time. TMC MPs above 65 years have not been coming to Parliament. The same is true for the Congress, as out of the party’s 40 MPs, barely 25-30 come.

At a recent meeting chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with the opposition parties, the government rejected the demand to send these three agricultural Bills for scrutiny by parliamentary panels.

“This is not about the numbers; this is about fighting to save one of our greatest institutions — Parliament. Two gentlemen have been relentlessly working to convert Parliament into M&S pvt limited. We will do all that it takes to register our protest,” TMC leader Derek O’ Brien said.

‘A face-saver’

Earlier, speaking to The Hindu, Congress general secretary (organisation), K.C. Venugopal said Ms. Badal’s resignation was a mere “face-saver.” “All the ordinances and Bills have to go through the Cabinet. She was part of the Cabinet that cleared these three Bills. She has resigned only now when these legislation are in Parliament. It is far too late and merely a face-saver,” he said.

The Congress has said the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, take away all the protection of minimum support price and leaves the farmers at the mercy of big corporates, who can now buy the produce directly from them at favourable terms.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 4:59:00 AM |

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