Oppn seeks discussion on farm stir; govt rejects demand

Centre rejects Opposition's demand over discussion on farmers' issues in Rajya Sabha

Naidu observed that the discussions on Motion of Thanks and budget offer ample opportunities to MPs to reflect on issues

The Opposition has demanded a separate discussion on farmers' issue in Rajya Sabha during the first leg of Budget Session but the government did not agree to it saying the MPs could raise the issue during the debate on Motion of Thanks to the President's speech.

The issue was raised at a meeting of Rajya Sabha floor leaders chaired by Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu during which it was decided that the Upper House will adjourn the first leg of Budget Session on February 13 instead of the scheduled February 15 to enable the Parliamentary Standing Committees to immediately start an examination of budget allocations of various ministries.

Also Read | Farmers dance to folk tunes at night as cops put up barbed wires, barricades at Ghazipur border

Sources said that Opposition leaders raised the demand for a separate discussion on farmers' agitation and related issues but was rejected by the government. This has prompted the Opposition to discuss a strategy on the next course of action.

There appears to be an in-principle agreement among the Opposition parties to submit a notice on Tuesday demanding the suspension of business to discuss the farmers' agitation and if not allowed, walk out of the House.

Indications are that government is unlikely to budge on a discussion on farmers' issues in the first leg, especially when the protest is going on at Delhi borders, but maybe ready for one during the second starting March 8. Sources said that the government view is that the Opposition could take up the issue in the second leg after the Budget related business is finished in the second leg.

"You can discuss every issue during the debate on Motion of Thanks. The Prime Minister will reply to that. The government is ready to discuss and reply on all issues," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi told reporters after the meeting.

Also Read | Opposition parties boycott Day 1 of Parliament Session 

In the meeting, sources said, it was decided that the debate on Motion of Thanks will start on February 3 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi would reply in Rajya Sabha on February 8. 

On February 2, the government plans to pass some bills and has already listed three bills for passage. Any change could be known only when the revised list of business is published.

Sources said the Budget discussion would start on February 9. The Business Advisory Committee of Rajya Sabha has allocated ten hours each for discussing the Motion of Thanks and Budget.

An official statement said that Naidu appealed to leaders of parties to ensure the effective functioning of the House during the Budget session. Naidu observed that the discussions on Motion of Thanks and budget offer ample opportunities to the members to reflect on a wide range of issues for which more time may be allocated. 

Naidu also advised ministers should learn the art of speaking in brief and to the point both while moving the Bills for consideration and replying at the end of debates so that members get more time to speak.

Sources said that some leaders pointed out that smaller parties get less time. Naidu said that the best possible efforts are being made to give a reasonable amount of time for members of such parties and groups resulting in more time being given than in the past.

Also Read | Farmers dance to folk tunes at night as cops put up barbed wires, barricades at Ghazipur border

He, however, noted that it may not be possible for members of about 20 such parties to speak on every issue. 

The meeting was attended by Leader of House Thawarchand Gehlot, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, senior Congress leaders Anand Sharma and Jairam Ramesh, Bhupinder Yadav (BJP), Prasanna Acharya (BJD), Ramgopal Yadav (SP), A Navneeth Krishnan (AIADMK), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), RCP Singh (JD-U), K Keshava Rao (TRS), A Vijayasai Reddy (YSR Congress), Sanjay Singh (AAP), Elamaram Kareem (CPI-M) and Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar (TDP) among others.