New Delhi: The top brass of the central government on Sunday flayed the opposition over its members’ “unruly conduct” in Rajya Sabha during the passage of the two farm bills, condemning their behaviour as “extremely shameful” and unprecedented in Parliament.
Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Prakash Javadekar, Pralhad Joshi, Piyush Goyal, Thawarchand Gehlot and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi held a press conference to hit out at opposition members, with Singh asserting that such conduct was not expected in a healthy democracy.
Singh also reassured the farmers on the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC).
“I want to assure farmers that minimum support price and APMC will continue. These will never be removed at any cost,” he said.
Singh noted that opposition members tore rule book and papers at the desk of the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh, who was in the Chair, and climbed on to the podium — something, he added, he had never witnessed before.
Lauding Harivansh as a man of values, he said the “misconduct” of opposition members towards him was unprecedented.
Even if opposition leaders were not convinced with the Chair’s decision, does it allow them to attack him and be “violent,” he asked.
Asked about the decision of BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal’s minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal quitting the Cabinet in protest against the farm bills, Singh said there are some “political reasons” behind certain decisions.
The Upper House, which witnessed a brief adjournment due to the pandemonium, passed by voice vote the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.
The bills have already been passed by Lok Sabha and will now go to the President for his assent before they are notified as laws.
Some opposition members led by the TMC climbed on to the chairman’s podium, tore official papers, and heckled the presiding officer as they opposed the government’s push to pass the two contentious farm bills without considering their demand for sending the proposed legislations to a house committee.
As the Chair took the clause-by-clause passage of the bills, Derek O’Brien of the TMC and some other opposition members climbed on to the podium showing the rule book to Harivansh.
Some members tore official papers.
Referring to the incident, Rajnath Singh said, “When discussion was taking place on the two agriculture bills in Rajya Sabha, at that time whatever happened in Rajya Sabha was saddening as well as unfortunate. I would go to the extent of saying that it was extremely shameful.”
He hit out at the Opposition for creating “misunderstanding” among farmers acting on vested political interests, and asserted that such actions were not befitting a healthy democratic practice.
“The two bills are historic for farmers and the agriculture sector. With their implementation, income of farmers will increase. But misunderstanding is being spread among farmers that MSP and APMC are being ended. The truth is that when these bills come into force, the farmers will be free to sell their produce in any market of the country. N either APMC is being ended nor MSP,” Singh said.
He said the government has also succeeded in fulfilling its promise of doubling farmers’ income to a large extent.
The behaviour of some MPs towards the Deputy Chairman is shameful and cannot be condemned enough, Singh said.
“Behaviour such as this has not only affected the Deputy Chairman’s image, but also parliamentary prestige,” he said.
“Harivansh ji has worked for a long time in the journalistic field. He has commitment towards values and that has been his image throughout. Going near his seat, standing there, tearing the rule book, also tearing the papers kept there, also climbing the podium…as far as I know such an incident has not taken place in parliamentary history — neither in Lok Sabha nor in Rajya Sabha,” Singh said.
He said that on the basis of “misleading facts”, there is an attempt to “mislead” the farmers of this country.
“I am also a farmer. I can’t think of the government taking such a step which will hurt the interests of the farmers,” he said.
Whatever has happened is against the parliamentary prestige, he said referring to the chaos in Rajya Sabha at the time of the passage of the agriculture bills.
Asked about Opposition parties giving a notice for a no-confidence motion against Harivansh over the manner in which the two farm bills were passed, Singh said the Chairman will take a decision on it.
To a question on the Opposition’s demand for division in Rajya Sabha, Naqvi said when division was being called on amendments, the Opposition members “were not only in the well but had broken mikes”.
“So, if they are talking of any kind of parliamentary decorum it is wrong. The vice chairman repeatedly said if you want division go to your seat, but nobody complied,” he said.