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RS passes farm bills amid ruckus

RS passes farm bills amid ruckus
TMC MP Derek O’Brien attempts to tear the rule book as ruckus erupts in Rajya Sabha over agriculture related bills on Sunday. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, SEP 20 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 9/20/2020 12:08:23 PM IST

Rajya Sabha on Sunday passed two key farm bills amid a bedlam as opposition members charged towards the podium of the presiding officer, flung the rule book at him, tore official papers and heckled him over their demand for a division of vote on their motion to refer the legislation to a select committee.

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.

Trouble started when the sitting of the House was extended beyond the scheduled time to allow passage of the bills. Opposition members, who felt such a move should be resorted to only by consensus, rushed into the Well, shouting slogans against the government and accusing it of being anti-farmer.

This forced Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar to cut short his reply and Deputy Chairman Harivansh took up the approval of the bills.

Four opposition sponsored motions to send the two bills to a House panel for greater scrutiny were negated by voice vote, but the Congress, TMC, CPM and DMK members sought a division of vote on the issue. As Harivansh over-ruled them saying division of votes can take place only when members are on their seat, TMC leader Derek O’Brien charged towards the podium, thrusting the rule book into the face of the Deputy Chairman.

House marshals thwarted the move as also blocking a book that was flung towards Harivansh. An attempt was also made to pulls microphones away from the chair but the marshals physically stopped that from happening.

DMK leader Tiruchi Siva, who along with O’Brien, K C Venugopal of Congress and K K Ragesh of CPM had moved resolutions for sending the bills to the select committee, tore papers and flung them into the air.

Harivansh, who asked members to go back to their places and not come into the Well due to  

Besides the BJP, the parties which supported the Bills included the JD(U) and YSRC party.

After Rajya Sabha was adjourned, opposition members sat on a dharna in the chamber.

As Lok Sabha members who were allotted seats in Rajya Sabha chamber could not enter when the Lower House met, Speaker Om Birla had to adjourn the proceedings for an  hour.

No-confidence motion against deputy chairman RS
Around 47 members of the opposition parties moved a no-confidence motion against Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Singh after Sunday’s proceedings, where two controversial farm bills were passed amid an unprecedented uproar. A no-confidence motion against the Deputy Chairman is a first in parliament and the convention is that Singh should not preside over house sessions till the matter is settled.
The Deputy Chairman “attempted to have the bills passed in haste and without application of mind, circumvented all demands for proper voting by Division and violated all Covid-10 norms by not providing enough time for sanitisaton,” read the MPs’ letter to the Secretary General of the Rajya Sabha.  
The letter also said he “packed the house with security personnel deliberately designed to overawe and outnumber the Members of the Opposition”. In the letter, the MPs also alleged that the deputy chairperson did not allow many opposition members to speak or consider extending the session, which, owing to the safety measures imposed by the coronavirus outbreak, was to end at 2 p.m.  
The opposition were up in arms this afternoon after Singh said their resolution was negated and moved to pass the two bills by voice vote despite a demand for division by DMK MP Siva from his seat.

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