Parliament passes Farm Laws Repeal Bill 2021 on Day 1

Farm Laws Repeal Bill 2021 passed in Parliament on Day 1 of Winter Session

Earlier today, the bill to repeal the three controversial farm laws was passed by the Lok Sabha

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. Credit: Screengrab of Sansad TV

Parliament on Monday passed a bill to repeal the controversial farm laws, with the government avoiding any debate on the issue in both the Houses, despite the Opposition MPs' demand for a discussion.

The move to scrap the three laws received the approval of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on the first day of the Winter Session of Parliament and about 15 months after the government had got them passed by both the Houses, almost in a similar manner – without any discussion and amid noisy protests by the Opposition MPs.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar piloted the Farm Laws Repeal Bill 2021 through the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. The MPs of the opposition parties in both the Houses protested and demanded discussion, which would have given them an opportunity to lash out at the government for bringing about the laws in the first place and thus triggering a 15-month-long agitation by the farmers.

The Opposition MPs continued to demand legal sanctity of the Minimum Support Prices for crops produced by the farmers, as well as compensation for the ones who died while protesting against the new agricultural laws.

Tomar said in the Rajya Sabha that both the government and the Opposition were in favour of repealing the farm laws and hence discussion on it was not required. He later told journalists that a discussion could have been initiated in the Lok Sabha, but it was not possible due to protests by the Opposition MPs.

Also read: Farm laws repeal: A long road ahead for farmers still

As soon as Tomar introduced the Bill to repeal the farm laws in the Lok Sabha, the MPs of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, Dravida Munnethra Kazhagam and Trinamool Congress trooped into the well of the House. The MPs of the Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Nationalist Congress Party and the other opposition parties also protested from their respective seats.

The leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, asked if the Bill was put on the List of Business for consideration and passage, why it was not being debated upon. Speaker Om Birla said that the discussion could be held only if the MPs of the opposition parties returned to their seats from the well of the House. He later put the Bill on voice votes and declared it passed as the MPs of the ruling BJP extended support to it.

The Bill was later introduced in the Rajya Sabha. Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of the Congress in the Upper House, said that the government had moved to repeal the farm laws after the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's poor performance in the recent bye-elections. He noted that over 700 farmers had died during the 15-month-long agitation against the farm laws.

Several opposition MPs demanded a discussion on the Bill and some of them, including Dola Sen and Nadimul Haque of the Trinamool Congress, rushed to the well of the House, raising slogans against the government. But Deputy Chairman Harivanbsh put the Bill on a voice vote and declared it passed with support from the MPs of the Treasury Bench.

The BJP and the Congress had issued a whip to its MPs in both the Houses asking them to ensure their presence during the passage of the Bill to repeal the farm laws.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government had enacted three new agricultural laws – Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 – in September 2020. The laws had triggered massive agitation by the farmers. The Prime Minister finally on November 19 announced the decision of his government to repeal the law, apparently to make sure that the protests by the farmers do not have an adverse impact on the BJP's prospects in the forthcoming assembly elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

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