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Rajya Sabha Adjourned for the Day Amid Opposition's Protest Over Farm Laws

Earlier, the Congress and other opposition parties forced two adjournments of proceedings in the pre-noon session of the upper house of parliament. 

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day on Tuesday after chairman Venkaiah Naidu did not agree to opposition members’ demand to hold a discussion on the farmers’ protest against the three new farm laws.

Earlier, the Congress and other opposition parties forced two adjournments of proceedings in the pre-noon session of the upper house of parliament. The house was first adjourned for about 40 minutes, until 10:30 am. Soon as the house met again, similar scenes were witnessed, leading to another adjournment till 11:30 am.

Members of the Congress, Left parties, Trinamool Congress, DMK and Rashtriya Janata Dal first walked out after their demand for suspension of business of the day to take up the discussion was rejected by the chair.

As the protesting members sloganeered, Naidu asked them to return to their seats. “Please go to your seats and allow the house to function. Some of you said the last time that not having question hour is ‘murder of democracy’. This is a statement made outside,” he said

“Members who have walked out and again coming to the well is not fair,” Naidu said before adjourning the house for the first time

When the house met at 10:30 am, the sloganeering continued and deputy chairman Harivansh, who was in the chair, tried to persuade members to allow the house to function.

However, as the opposition members did not yield, he adjourned the proceedings till 11:30 am. At the time of adjournment, ports, shipping and waterways minister Mansukh Mandaviya was speaking on The Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020

Earlier, parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi said the opposition members themselves were demanding Question Hour and the government agreed. “Question Hour is going on….whether they (protesting members) want Question Hour or not, let them place it on record,” he said, as opposition members were raising slogans.

Many opposition parties had given a notice under rule 267 that calls for setting aside of business of the day to take up a discussion on the issue pressed

Chairman Naidu had, however, disallowed the motion saying the members were free to raise the issue during the discussion on motion of thanks to the President’s address.

The President, he said, had referred to the farmer’s agitation in his address made at the start of the Budget session of parliament last week

While the Lok Sabha is scheduled to start a discussion on the motion on Tuesday, Rajya Sabha will do so on Wednesday, he said.

He said several rounds of discussions have happened between the government and the farmers’ group. “I understand the concern (of members) for the need to resolve the issue at the earliest date,” he said

Naidu, however, allowed members who gave notices to make very brief mentions.

Thousands of farmers have been demanding a rollback of the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

The protesting farmers have expressed the apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations

However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring better opportunities to farmers and introduce new technologies in agriculture.

Leader of the Opposition and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the farmers have been camping for more than two months and the issue needs to be discussed. Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) said the house is not aware of what is going on between the government and farmers. The Rajya Sabha should discuss the issue separately from the motion of thanks, he said.

While CPI leader Elamaram Kareem alleged water and electricity supply to the protests sites has been cut, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva said the farmers have been sitting on roads for over two months in the cold and the issue needs to be discussed separately.

However, Naidu did not agree to their motion after which the members of Congress, Left, TMC, DMK and RJD staged a walkout. “No one is stopping you from discussing the issue tomorrow. Tomorrow you will get an opportunity,” he said.

(With PTI inputs)