regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

Opposition parties cry foul on farm report

A day later, Congress and TMC, which has the chairmanship of the committee, said it was a misrepresentation and evidence of the BJP’s “dirty tricks department in action ”

Anita Joshua New Delhi Published 21.03.21, 01:48 AM

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Opposition parties were left scrambling for an explanation after a parliamentary panel in which they had representation green-signalled one of the three contentious farm laws in a report tabled in Parliament on Friday.

In the report tabled in the Lok Sabha, the Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution recommended that the government “implement the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, in letter and spirit, and without… hindrances so that the farmers and other stakeholders of farming sector in this country receive the benefits intended under the said Act”.


A day later, the Congress and Trinamul Congress, which has the chairmanship of the committee, said the report was a misrepresentation and evidence of the BJP’s “dirty tricks department in action ”.

Saptagiri Sankar Ulaka, a Congress member of the panel, wrote to the Lok Sabha Speaker on Saturday, dissociating himself from the panel’s report on “Price Rise of Essential Commodities — Causes and Effects”.

In his letter, Ulaka said the draft report of the committee was sent by email on Wednesday evening at 7pm and adopted the following morning between 10am and 10.30am under acting chairman Ajay Misra Teni. “I was not present when the report was adopted as the meeting was called at a short notice of merely 15 hours,” Ulaka said.

The minutes of the meeting say Ulaka was present but it is possible that he was not there when the report was adopted. The Telegraph tried to contact him but could not reach him.

Referring in particular to the recommendation of the panel “to implement the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, in letter and spirit”, Ulaka said in the letter, “I completely dissociate myself with this recommendation, and record my dissent to the report in line with the stand expressed by the Congress Party” in and outside Parliament.

Ulaka said he had opposed the three farm laws at the meeting of the committee on December 16, 2020, but there is no reference to this in the report.

As per rules, dissent notes are submitted to the committee before the report is finalised. Such dissent notes are tabled along with the report.

Flagging the letter, senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh said: “MPs of the Congress party DID NOT ask for implementation of the Essential Commodities Act. The standing committee report is a misrepresentation!”

Two other Congress MPs who are on the panel have also written to the Speaker to record their dissent.

Trinamul’s Derek O’Brien responded: “This is the BJP’s cheap ‘n dirty tricks department in action. Con job was done when Chairman of #Parliament Committee was not at meeting. @aitc position on #FarmLaws and Essential Commodities Act well documented. Withdraw draconian laws #FarmersProtest.”

Trinamul is under particular attack because the panel is headed by its senior leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay, who was not present on Friday.

Other Opposition parties represented in the panel include the National Conference, Shiv Sena, NCP, Aam Aadmi Party and the Samajwadi Party. Some of their representatives were present at the meeting.

While the BJP would have been able to push through the report even if all Opposition MPs were present and protested, the report would have recorded their dissent.

Fauzia Khan of the NCP who did attend the meeting told this newspaper: “Well, the copy of the report was handed to us but there was no discussion on it and we had to rush to Parliament, so we did not get an opportunity to read the contents.”

Upset with the panel report, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the umbrella outfit of protesting farmer unions, urged the committee to withdraw the recommendations. “It is entirely disgraceful that many parties which have been claiming support to the farmers’ agitation for repeal of the three farm laws have voted for the implementation of the ECAA. This exposes a wider consensus amongst these parties on these laws.”

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