Opposition To Meet President Over Farm Bills Amid Parliament Boycott

The meeting between Ghulam Nabi Azad, the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, and President Ram Nath Kovind comes a day after the opposition parties boycotted the parliament.

Opposition To Meet President Over Farm Bills Amid Parliament Boycott

New Delhi: As the opposition parties continue their protest against the controversial Farm Bills, which have cleared the parliament, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad will meet President Ram Nath Kovind today at 5 PM. The meeting between Mr Azad, the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, and the President comes a day after the opposition parties boycotted the parliament.

The monsoon session of parliament – which started after nearly five months of indefinite adjournment — will conclude today, eight days ahead of schedule over Covid concerns. On Tuesday, opposition leaders boycotted the parliament in protest over the three bills related to the agriculture sector and the suspension of eight MPs over chaos and “unruly behaviour” in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday when two of the three bills were passed.

Yesterday, Rajya Sabha cleared seven bills in three-and-a-half hours in the absence of opposition parties. Mr Azad this afternoon wrote to Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu, urging him to not pass the three controversial Labour Code Bills, stressing: “These bills affect the livelihood of crores of workers. It will be a great blot on democracy to have these bills passed unilaterally today.” The government has said the three Labour Code Bills, cleared by Rajya Sabha, will give a safe environment to workers.

Visuals showed opposition leaders protesting outside the parliament today with placards.

Amid high drama for the third day in a row over the Farm Bills, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday had spelt out three demands linked to the minimum support price (MSP) of crops on behalf of the opposition. The opposition also demanded revocation of suspension of the eight Rajya Sabha members, including Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien, Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh, Congress’s Rajeev Satav and CPM’s KK Ragesh.

The suspended members continued their sit-in on the lawns of the parliament complex on Tuesday till about 11.30 AM after spending the night there in protest.

“We will consider revoking suspension only after the suspended Rajya Sabha members apologise for their behaviour,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters on Tuesday.

As the opposition parties sought an appointment with the President, the Congress said “it is unfortunate and regrettable” that the President was not giving time. “We are deeply disappointed as we hoped that the President would meet opposition parties, would scuttle the bills and listen to the representatives of 62 crore farmers,” Congress’s Randeep Surjewala had said.

Two of three controversial bills linked to agricultural sector – Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services and Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill – were cleared by the Rajya Sabha on Sunday amid unprecedented uproar and protests. TMC’s Derek O’Brien was seen in the well of house; he was accused of trying to tear rule break and snatch microphone from Deputy Rajya Sabha Chairman Harivansh. He, along with seven other MPs, were suspended the next day.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, the third farm bill, was passed yesterday.

The Narendra Modi government has said the farm bills empower small and marginal farmers by allowing them access to markets and prices of their choosing. The opposition, however, says the bills threaten to abolish MSPs and will leave the farmers at the mercy of corporates.

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