Parliament repeals controversial farm laws in a controversial way without debate

Parliament passes a bill to cancel the controversial laws that led to yearlong agitation by tens of thousands of farmers

Parliament passes a bill to cancel the controversial laws that led to yearlong agitation by tens of thousands of farmers
Parliament passes a bill to cancel the controversial laws that led to yearlong agitation by tens of thousands of farmers

Bill to repeal three farm laws passed in Parliament

Parliament on Monday repealed three controversial farm laws in a controversial way without any debate, inviting huge protests from the Opposition parties. The government moved Repealing Act, hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the media that everything will be debated and every question will be answered. Interestingly Modi, who on November 19 declared the repealing of the three farm bills through public broadcast was not present in both Houses when Agriculture Minister moved the repealing bill, amid huge protests.

The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021, which sought to rescind the three laws passed last year to ease rules around the sale, pricing, and storage of farm crops, was taken up by Lok Sabha which passed it within minutes and, thereafter, it was introduced in Rajya Sabha and approved by voice vote. The whole exercise was completed within two hours. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Mallikarjun Kharge, the Opposition Leaders in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha protested the conduct of the government in stonewalling debate. In Rajya Sabha, 12 Opposition MPs from Congress, TMC, Shiv Sena, and Left parties were suspended for the entire Session for entering the Well, creating a ruckus, tearing of the repealing bill in protest against the government’s conduct to pass the bill without debate.

The bill now awaits the assent of President Ram Nath Kovind for the formal withdrawal of the three contentious laws against which farmers have been protesting for the past year.

In Rajya Sabha, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said “there is no need for a discussion” as the Opposition parties had been seeking repeal of the laws and the government was now doing it. However, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) – the joint body of farmer unions leading the current protests – has refused to end the agitation and asked the government to immediately resume talks on six demands, including a legal guarantee for the procurement of crops at MSP.

The other demands were sacking and arrest of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra in connection with the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, withdrawal of cases against farmers, and building of a memorial for those who lost their lives during the agitation.

Just as Tomar introduced the repeal bill in the Lok Sabha around noon, MPs belonging to Opposition parties trooped into the Well of the House demanding a debate. They held banners and raised slogans. Speaker Om Birla said he was ready to allow discussion on the bill provided the protesting MPs go back to their seats and there is order in the House.

“You want a debate, I am ready to allow debate when there is order in the House. But if you come to the Well, how can there be a debate,” he said asking the members to take their seats. Birla said discussion is not possible when the MPs were standing in the Well holding placards.

Congress leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asked why there is no discussion taking place since the bill was listed for consideration and passage. He accused the Modi government of taking the House for a ride.

The Repealing Bill which passed on Monday without debate had some curious wordings: “During the Covid period, the farmers have worked hard to increase production and fulfill the needs of the nation. As we celebrate the 75th Year of Independence – ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav‘, the need of the hour is to take everyone together on the path of inclusive growth and development,” the Bill said.

But here the question is why Prime Minister Narendra Modi who declared the repealing of the controversial bill through television broadcast, avoided addressing the Parliament when the Repealing Bill was introduced. Why did Modi avoid facing the Parliament, where a year ago he bulldozed the three controversial farm laws?

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