Farm Bills likely to stand Rajya Sabha ‘test’ today


(Online Desk)

With a clear majority with the friendly parties like BJD, AIADMK and YSR Congress, the much criticised three Farm Bills, which were cleared by the Lok Sabha, may too get the Rajya Sabha nod today.  As on today, the BJP led enjoys the support of 111 against Opposition, including the Shiv Sena, TRS and Shiromani Akali Dal having just 100, cannot stall the Bills and expect their demand to refer it to the select committee may not cut ice.

However, the Rajya Sabha bound to witness noisy scenes on today when the three contentious farm Bills will come up for discussion and voting. While the Centre has already reached out to regional parties to muster support, the Opposition wants the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and the Farm Services Bill and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill — to be referred to a select committee.

Yes, it is going to be a numbers game as some regional parties, apparently have not indicated which way they will vote. That apart, around two dozen Rajya Sabha members are absent on health grounds, which will bring down the strength of the House from 245 to 220.

Meanwhile, the TRS has decided to oppose the Bills.

The BJP has issued a whip to its MPs to be present on Sunday. In the House of 245 with two vacancies, the NDA has 111 while the Opposition has around 100. The BJD, the YSR Congress, and the AIADMK are likely to extend support to the Centre but NDA ally Shiromani Akali Dal has announced it is not on the same page.

Considering the far-reaching impact of the proposed laws on the farming community, the Opposition wants the Bills to be discussed threadbare and states’ inputs also be taken into account, as agriculture is a state subject. Congress leader K C Venugopal has submitted a notice to the Rajya Sabha secretariat to refer the Bill to the select committee. A few other MPs have also given similar notices.

The Congress has appealed to other opposition parties to vote against the Bill. It has also called a meeting of its all general secretaries, state in-charges and the six-member advisory committee to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to discuss the course of action.  Other opposition parties are also shaping strategy to oppose the Bills.

Claiming the Bills undermine the food security system, Congress leader P Chidambaram urged Opposition parties to collectively oppose them so that they do not become law in their present form.

Present Strengths in Rajya Sabha:

Opposition: Congress 40, SP-8, DMK-7, TRS-7, Left Partners-6, RJD-5, NCP-4, SPm SAD and Shiv Sena – three each (Total 100)

Ruling NDA: BJP- 86, BJD-9, AIADMK-9, YSRCP-6, and TDP-1 (Total: 111)