Oppn warns of disruption if not heard in Parliament

Winter Session of Parliament from Monday, Opposition warns disruption if not heard

The bill to repeal farm laws has been listed for passing on Monday

A view of the Parliament building in New Delhi. Credit: PTI File Photo

The Winter Session of Parliament will begin on Monday with the Bill to repeal three contentious farm laws listed in Lok Sabha on the first day itself even as the Opposition put the government on notice by asking them to face disruption if they try to bulldoze their way.

Amid speculation that the government may go ahead with the repeal of farm laws without a discussion, Opposition sources warned that such a move would lead to confrontation. They would demand discussion during the meetings of Business Advisory Committees of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on Monday morning.

Opposition leaders also have expressed apprehensions over the government's intent and asked whether they would bring back the laws after upcoming Assembly elections, pointing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertion that the laws were good and only a small section is against it.

Indicating that farmers’ issues will dominate the Session, Opposition parties also amplified farmers’ demand for legislative backing for Minimum Support Price (MSP) during an all-party meeting called by the government, which Modi did not attend.

Also Read | All-party meet: Opposition parties demand discussion on Pegasus row, price rise

The leaders also highlighted issues ranging from price rise, fuel price hike, extending tenure of CBI and ED Directors and Covid-19 management, among others.

The meeting attended by 30 parties had its share of drama when AAP Rajya Sabha floor leader Sanjay Singh threatened to walk out when he was interrupted while referring to Modi's tenure as Gujarat Chief Minister. He was allowed to continue and the issue died down.

National Conference's Farooq Abdullah bluntly told the meeting that he does not expect Parliament to function smoothly as the ruling BJP will go back from the promises made, leading to the Opposition disrupting the proceedings and being blamed for it, sources said.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge told reporters after the meeting, “the government is repealing the farm laws. We were expecting that the Prime Minister would attend the meeting and share something new with us. There is a fear that the government may bring back these laws in some other form, as the Prime Minister has said that these laws are good. We wanted to ask these questions. We will cooperate with the government on good Bills. If they don't consider us, then there will be disruption. We won't be responsible for that.”

Also Read | Winter Session of Parliament set to start with farm law repeal; BJP, Cong issue whips to members

CPI(M)'s John Brittas was scathing in his attack on the absence of Modi in Parliament and said the House has been "craving for a glance of the Prime Minister". He also referred to Modi's address to the nation to announce repealing of farm laws and said that if the Prime Minister or Home Minister Amit Shah had spared a few minutes in addressing concerns of MPs, the Monsoon Session "would not have ended in a fiasco".

While BJD's Prasanna Acharya reminded the government that it is their responsibility to ensure smooth functioning of Parliament, RSP's NK Premachandran warned the government against using Parliamentary deadlock as an advantage to pass Bills. Premachandran also demanded that the outcome of COP26 in Glasgow should be discussed.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said important issues have been raised during the meeting and referred to the demand for more discussions in Parliament. He said the government also wants healthy discussion in Parliament.

At the meeting, sources said Trinamool Congress' Sudip Bandhopadhyay and Derek O'Brien demanded that the Women's Reservation Bill be passed immediately and raised the issue of disinvestment of public sector companies without any planning. They got support from SP and BSP, which highlighted that the quota regime for Dalits, tribals and OBCs are being thrown away through this privatisation drive.

Sources said Opposition leaders unanimously warned the government against bulldozing bills and blamed the government for the washout of Monsoon Session, saying that the government's insistence on not allowing a discussion on Pegasus led to such a situation.

CPI’s Binoy Viswam said, “The Prime Minister should attend parliament not as an occasional visitor. Smaller parties also should be heard. BJP was only two earlier. Parliament should not be a law making factory! Debates make the Parliament.”

When Union Minister Ramdas Athawale praised the three farm laws as good, sources said, the Opposition leaders asked whether it was the government’s view. Union Commerce Minister and Rajya Sabha Leader of House Piyush Goyal intervened to say that Athawale was outlining his party’s views and not that of the government.

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