NEW DELHI: Opposition parties in both the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday boycotted the proceedings till the suspension of eight Rajya Sabha MPs was revoked while the government insisted that they must first express regret for their conduct.
With no opposition in the house, the Rajya Sabha passed 7 key bills, including the key amendment to Essential Commodities Bill, in a span of just 3.5 hours.
Earlier during the discussion on the matter, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, said that no one was happy with what happened on Sunday but that MPs were denied their rights to seek voting on two farm bills -- the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020.
“The government should introduce another bill which ensures that private players do not purchase below the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and farmers can move court on this. MSPs should be announced using the Swaminathan committee formula and that the state corporations and FCI should not purchase below MSPs. The suspension of our colleagues should be revoked. Till the time the government does not take it back, we will boycott the proceedings of the House,” said Azad.
He further said that "In 2016, Arun Jaitley had said that any government will become illegitimate if the Speaker refuses to hold voting. For God's sake, do not move towards 'one nation, one party'.”
Many other opposition members, including TRS' K Keshava Rao, sought termination of suspension of members and that the bill was not passed as per parliamentary procedures, triggering anger among them.
In Lok Sabha, the opposition also raised the issue of suspension of MPs and boycotted the proceedings. Five opposition MPs also boycotted the Business Advisory Committee meeting called by the chairman to discuss truncating the monsoon session in view of several members and staff testing positive for Covid-19.
The suspended MPs -- TMC’s Derek O'Brien, Dola Sena, Congress’s Rajeev Satav, Syed Nassir Hussain, Ripun Bora, AAP's Sanjay Singh, CPI's Elamaram Kareem, and CPM's KK Ragesh -- who sat through Monday night in the Parliament compound to protest the chair’s decision, called off their dharna after the opposition walked out of the House announcing a boycott of session.
In the morning, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh went to meet the MPs sitting in protest and brought them tea but his gesture did not strike a conciliatory note. His attempt won accolades from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who called him “blessed with a humble mind and a big heart.”
Harivansh, who was at the chair in the upper House when the ruckus happened Sunday, said he is on a day-long fast to express his anguish over the humiliating conduct of the opposition leaders and hoped this would inspire a feeling of self-purification among them.
Lending support to MPs who were suspended for “unruly behaviour, NCP chief and RS MP Sharad Pawar also announced a day-long fast.
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, however, clarified that the allegations that the division was not allowed by the deputy chairman is flawed as around 13 times the members were told to go back to their seats if they wanted to vote on a resolution moved by the opposition.
On the demand to revoke the suspension, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said that the government does not want to keep members away from the proceedings but they should express regret for their action.