Farm laws (repeal) Bill passed in shortest possible time: Why is the govt afraid of discussion?

Parliament took 4-8 minutes to pass the farm laws (repeal) Act On Nov 29. No discussion was allowed in LS while Mallikarjun Kharge’s mike was switched off after he had spoken for a few minutes in RS

Parliament of India
Parliament of India

NH Web Desk

Is the Government afraid of discussions in Parliament or does it deem parliament to be just a rubber stamp to approve what the Government does, asked opposition leaders after both the Houses passed in the shortest possible time the farm laws (repeal) Bill on November 29.

As widely anticipated, there was no discussion in Parliament today on the farmers’ protests, their demands and the government’s about turn on the contested farm laws. The Government had ignored demands for a comprehensive discussion on the farm laws in September last year when the Bills were introduced. It had also refused to refer the Bills to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for scrutiny then. Demand for a Division was turned down in the Rajya Sabha.

The Government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said before the session in the morning, was prepared to hold discussion on every issue and answer every question raised.

But even before he reassured the nation with a straight face on live TV that the Government was all for discussions in parliament, the Business Advisory Committee of the Lok Sabha had been told that there was no precedent for a discussion on Bills repealing Acts passed. Objections raised by the opposition, which cited precedents, were overruled. So, there was no discussion in the Lok Sabha even as the Speaker kept reassuring the House that discussions on all subjects would be allowed.

In the Rajya Sabha, the leader of the opposition Mallikarjun Kharge was actually allowed to speak. But soon after he asserted that nobody in the House was against the Bill repealing the farm laws, his mike was cut off and the Bill was declared to have been passed.

A crestfallen Kharge told the media later that while the opposition welcomed the repeal Act, it certainly wanted a discussion on farmers’ demands. “The farmers are still sitting at the gates of Delhi and the Parliament has the right and the duty to discuss their pending demands including the Minimum Support Price,” he added.

Kharge and Congress MP and former party president Rahul Gandhi pointed out that the Parliament should have been allowed to discuss why the farm laws were introduced in the first place, who were to benefit by them and the powers propelling the haste with which they were pushed, again without any discussion.

Parliament, they said, had been denied the opportunity to deliberate on the demands of the farmers for making Minimum Support Price a legal guarantee. Nor were the opposition allowed to raise the issue of compensation for the over 700 farmers who passed away while protesting. Nor was the Government willingness to discuss the Lakhimpur Khiri incident and continuation in office of MOS (Home) Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’.

While the Government and BJP spokespersons on TV keep blaming the opposition for not allowing the Parliament to function, opposition leaders pointed out that it was the Government which did not want the parliament to perform its duty.

The hurriedly drafted Bill mistakenly described MSP as the ‘Minimum Sales Price’ and farmers’ leaders were quick to point out that while farmers were objecting to the amendments in the Electricity Act, the Government appeared to be in favour of pushing the amendments through.

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