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Farmers' protest reverberates in Lok Sabha, proceedings crippled
New Delhi, February 2, 2021
The farmers' protests reverberated in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, crippling its proceedings, as major opposition parties, along with the ruling party's two former allies -- Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Shiv Sena, created a ruckus in the House on the three contentious farm laws.
Despite multiple requests by the Government and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, the opposition continued its protest seeking withdrawal of the three farm laws that were enacted in September last year during the Monsoon Session of Parliament terming these as "black laws" and "anti-farmer".
From the SAD, Harsimrat Kaur Badal rallied her party even as Arvind Sawant from the Shiv Sena led its members in the House to raise objections against the government. Kaur had resigned from the Union Cabinet last year, leading to a crack in the SAD-BJP alliance after the farm Acts were enacted in Parliament.
It all began with the beginning of proceedings of the House which assembled for the day at 4 p.m. The Lower House later saw three adjournments: first for an hour till 5 p.m., second till 7 p.m. and finally for the day.
Only reports of Standing Committees and the Motion on President's speech could be moved amid the din.
Referring to the three farm laws, the opposition party members trooped near the Speaker's podium, raising slogans such as "Kisan Virodhi Bill Wapas Lo" (Take back anti-farmer law), and "Kisano Par Tanasahi Nahi Chalegi" (No more dictatorship on farmers).
Accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government of governing like the "British era", Congress leader of House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury requested a debate on farmers' issue considering their over two-month-long protest which began on Delhi's borders on November 26 last year, seeking repeal of the three farm laws.
"The whole country is witnessing how the farmers are sitting on agitation against the government. Over 170 farmers have died so far during the protests. The way farmers are being tortured, it seems that we have gone back to the the British era," Chowdhury said.
"The priority of the House should be to hold debate on farmers' issue first," he said.
Chowdhury was supported by other MPs from the Congress who were near the Speaker's podium along with members of BJP's former allies Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Shiv Sena, as well as members of DMK, Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), who were standing in the well holding placards in their hands.
Members of the YSRCP and the Bahujan Samaj Party were also raising slogans against the government from their seats. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla urged the members to go back to their seats and let the House function.
He also assured them that he would give them enough time to raise their issues. As the members did not relent, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the government was ready to discuss all the issues raised by the opposition inside the House as well as outside, and condemned the disruption of House proceedings.
"This House is holding its Budget Session under extraordinary circumstances. The Opposition should not waste the precious time of the House. The government is ready to debate on each and every issue raised by the Opposition," Tomar said.
The Speaker tried to convince the MPs that all of their queries will be taken seriously by the House and they will be given enough chance to express their issues whatever they want to raise. But, the Opposition ignored his request and continued sloganeering.
"All of your questions will be taken. Please go back to your seats. I will give you enough time to discuss all your issues," Birla said.
Amid the din, Birla started the Question Hour when the House assembled at 4 p.m. but failed to control the opposition. The Speaker later adjourned the House till 5 p.m.
As the bedlam continued when House met for the second time, the Speaker began House proceedings, but after 15 minutes of mayhem, he again adjourned the House till 7 p.m.
Minutes after its third sitting, when BJP MP Locket Chatterjee moved the motion on the President's speech and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi condemned the opposition for disrupting the House proceedings, the House was finally adjourned for the day by the Speaker.