South Asian Insider
Lok Sabha adjourned repeatedly as opposition continues protest over farm laws
(News Agencies)- With opposition members demanding a separate discussion on the new farm laws, Lok Sabha proceedings were adjourned repeatedly on Wednesday by Speaker Om Birla. Opposition demands repeal of farm laws As soon as the House met at 4 pm, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury tried to raise the issue of farmers' agitation against the agricultural laws, saying the matter is maligning the image of the country, reported news agency PTI. "We are concerned," he said. Several opposition parties including the Congress and the DMK asked the government to withdraw the three contentious farm laws without making it a prestige issue and not to treat the agitating farmers as "enemies", reported PTI. Participating in the discussion on the Motion on Thanks to President's Address to the joint sitting of Parliament, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Congress member Ghulam Nabi Azad suggested that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself should make the announcement on repeal of the laws. Modi was present in the House at the time. Declaring that disrespect to the national flag cannot be tolerated, he also condemned the violence at the Red Fort during the farmers' tractor rally on Republic Day, reported PTI. "I urge the government to withdraw these three bills," he said, and added that the government should set up a committee to find out the whereabouts of people "who have gone missing" during the farmers' protest. DMK MP Tiruchi Siva sought assurance from the government and the prime minister on the repeal of the three contentious laws that have led to protests at border points of the national capital and several parts of the country. He also expressed concern over the manner in which the farm bills were passed last year, but Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said that everything was done according to rule. Attacking the Centre for heavy barricading of farmer protest sites in the national capital, Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav urged the government not to treat farmers as "enemies" and concede to their demand for repeal of these laws. He also demanded the government announce a compensation of Rs 20 lakh to family of those who died during the protest and a government job to their children. "Our farmers are sitting for months on protest. Many farmers have lost their lives due to cold, hunger and other reasons. But the government has become merciless and cruel. Nothing is affecting it. There is no impact," he said. As per the report, on the security at the three protest sites, Yadav said, "Be it Ghazipur, Tikri or Singhu, roads are cemented with a bed of nails and concrete walls. The security at protest sites is more than (that in) our Parliament. Even at Pakistan borders, such security is not there. Are they coming to attack Delhi?" "Are they (farmers) enemies?" PTI quoted him asking. "Farmers not only feed the country, but those protecting our borders also come from their families. They don't come from families whom you are working for," he told the government. First adjournment till 4.30 pm Several opposition members trooped into the Well, protesting against the farm laws. Urging the members to return to their seats, Speaker Om Birla said they should maintain the dignity of the House or else he will have to take disciplinary action. He said the Question Hour is important and it should go on, reported PTI. But the opposition members refused to relent, forcing him to adjourn the proceedings till 4.30 pm. Second adjournment till 5 pm When the House reassembled, Chowdhury demanded that there be a separate discussion on the Presidential address and the farmers' issue. The Speaker said the members should return to their seats and assured them of sufficient time and opportunity to express their views. Birla urged AAP leader Bhagwant Mann to go to his seat if he wants a discussion and warned him of action. But the opposition members refused to relent, forcing him to adjourn the proceedings again till 5 pm, reported PTI. Third adjournment till 7 pm Similar scenes were seen when the proceedings resumed, with many opposition members trooping into the Well again and shouting slogans against the farm laws. After various documents were tabled, the Speaker requested the agitating members to go back to their seats as he wanted to start the Zero Hour, saying it is important to talk about the problems faced by the people in the members' constituencies. However, the sloganeering continued. Shiromani Akali Dal leader and former union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal was also in the Well, holding a poster against the farm laws, reported PTI. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said he had discussions with the leaders of Opposition parties but was not taking their names and that they had agreed to start a discussion on the motion thanking the President for his address. "Now, they have made a U-turn and that is also like an insult to the President," PTI quoted Joshi saying. There were more than 20 members, including from the Congress, DMK, AAP and the SAD, protesting in the Well. Amid the din, Birla adjourned the House till 7 pm. Later, as ruckus continues, the Lok Sabha was adjourned till 9 pm. Why are farmers protesting? Thousands of farmers have been protesting at the Delhi borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, demanding a rollback of the three laws -- Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act. 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, reported PTI. Eleven rounds of formal talks between the government and the protesting farmer unions failed to break the deadlock. While unions have stuck to their main demand of repeal of the laws and legal guarantee of MSP, the government has offered some concessions including keeping these laws on hold for 1-1.5 years. Even the Supreme Court has stayed the laws for two months and set up a panel to look into the matter.
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