India

Monsoon session: 8 MPs suspended in Parliament for ‘unprecedented chaos’ over farm bills

New Delhi: As the monsoon session in Parliament of India continues, eight opposition members were suspended on Monday from the Rajya Sabha for the rest of the session over the “unprecedented chaos” in the house during the passing of controversial farm bills. However, the suspended members refused to leave the house.

The members, according to a report by NDTV, include Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s Sanjay singh, Congress’s Rajeev Satav and CPM’s KK Ragesh.

The members were told that they had displayed “unruly behaviour especially with the Chair and gross disorderly conduct”.

As the opposition protested against the action, the report said that suspended members refused to leave the house causing five adjournments of the Rajya Sabha.

In this regard, the opposition said the members should have been given a chance to explain and demanded a vote on their suspension, but the Rajya Sabha said the decision was based on a government motion.

“I am pained at what happened yesterday. It defies logic. It is a bad day for Rajya Sabha,” the report quoted Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu as having said.

Naidu said the members threw papers, wrenched mics away, “physically threatened” Deputy Chairman Harivansh Singh and even abused him.

“I am naming Mr Derek O Brien. Please go out of the house,” the report quoted Naidu saying while naming the suspended members.

However, the eight suspended MPs didn’t budge, even after the house adjourned. Later, they protested on the lawns of the Parliament Complex, holding up placards that read – “We will fight for farmers” and “parliament assassinated”.

On Sunday, two of the government’s three farm bills, which have led to massive protests by opposition parties and farmers, were passed amid an uproar in the Rajya Sabha.

According to the report, Sanjay Singh and Rajiv Satav climbed onto the Secretary General’s table at the centre of the house, Derek O’Brien waved a rulebook in front of the Chairperson and tried to tear it up and some members pulled out mics at their seats. A few members also tore up copies of the bills.

At one point, the report said, marshals formed a wall between the Deputy Chairman and the protesting members.

The bills, which were cleared in the Lok Sabha earlier, will now go to the President for sign-off before becoming law.

Earlier, the opposition had called for the farm bills to be sent to a select committee for review. They had also asked for the discussion to be extended to today. However, Harivansh Singh refused and allowed Agriculture Minister of India Narendra Singh Tomar to continue his reply before voting on the bills.

The situation tensed after the opposition demanded physical voting but Harivansh Singh refused. Opposition members ran to the Chair, attempted to tear up the rule book and tried to snatch the Deputy Chairman’s mic. A voice vote took place amid slogans from the opposition, the report said.

In this regard, the opposition has said that the manner in which bills were passed yesterday was “murder of democracy”.

Later, the former president of Indian National Congress said that the move has brought economic disaster for the entire country.

“Muting Of Democratic India continues: by initially silencing and later, suspending MPs in the Parliament and turning a blind eye to farmers’ concerns on the black agriculture laws. This ‘omniscient’ government’s endless arrogance has brought economic disaster for the entire country,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi.

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress also posted: “Absolutely unbelievable! BJP MURDERED democracy by ruthlessly silencing all the opposition leaders in Rajya Sabha yesterday. Citizens of the nation, raise your voice before we’re completely under Narendra Modi’s dictatorship! #BJPKilledDemocracy”.

The BJP’s Bhupendra Yadav, defending yesterday’s vote, said, “a division of vote is not possible when MPs sabotage public property in the House and throw rule books at the Chair. Opposition hooliganism in parliament to grab eyeballs is the real threat to democracy.”

Earlier, while addressing an event that held in Bihar through video conference, the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, dedicated much of his speech to defending the farm bills, calling them “historic and necessary” for the country to move forward in the 21st Century.

He said the opposition was misleading farmers with lies about them being cheated out of Minimum Support Price (MSP) as they “felt control slipping away”.

According to the government of India, the bills will make it easier for farmers to sell their produce directly to big buyers, reform antiquated laws and remove middlemen from agriculture trade, allowing farmers to sell to institutional buyers and large retailers.

But the opposition argues that farmers will lose their bargaining power if retailers have tighter control over them. The parties also believe the proposed laws will destroy wholesale markets which ensure fair and timely payments to farmers, weaken the state’s farmers by ranging them against big business, and hit the overall state economy, the report mentioned.

 

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