Bedlam in RS as farm bills passed

The Rajya Sabha passed two contentious farm bills by voice vote amid ruckus over allegedly denying the Opposition its voting rights. The bills will go to the President for his assent before they are notified as laws.

Later in the day, 12 Opposition parties gave a notice for a no-confidence motion against Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan over the manner in which the two bills—the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020—were passed. Such a move has never been made in at least 30 years.

Trouble began in the usually calmer House after Narayan, who was elected for a second term last week, refused to take into account the Opposition’s demand for voting on sending the bills to a select committee for legislative scrutiny. Members present in the House told Mirror that Tiruchi Siva (DMK), Derek O’Brien (TMC), KC Venugopal (Congress) and KK Ragesh (CPI-M) moved the resolution. With time running out even for a discussion in the House since the Rajya Sabha hall that doubles as seating space for Lok Sabha needed to be cleared out by 1 pm, Congress MP Ghulam Nabi Azad asked Narayan to take up the bills on Monday instead of rushing them. When his demand was denied, Opposition MPs stormed into the well, raising slogans.

Bedlam then ensued. Two MPs climbed atop a bench in front of Narayan, some others tried to tear the rule book, another MP tore and flung pages of his copy of the bills while yet another attempted to break the deputy chairman’s microphone.

The ruckus prompted Narayan to adjourn the House for 10 minutes. When the proceedings resumed, he took up clause-by-clause passage of the bills amid the uproar. He considered the bills to be passed by a voice vote and denied a division of votes. Narayan’s repeated requests to the members to vacate the well and follow social distancing norms were met with further agitation and louder sloganeering. The sound system inside the House was muted and marshals physically removed the agitating MPs.

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