Rajya Sabha: Centre's 'mischievous' discussion on agriculture foiled
The Centre on Tuesday tried to spring on the Rajya Sabha what the Opposition described as a “mischievous” discussion on agriculture, prompting a foiling operation that saw an MP clambering atop a table and another throwing a file at the presiding officer’s vacant chair.
The purported ambush and the retaliation came a day ahead of the scheduled tabling of a bill to privatise the General Insurance Corporation (GIC). The Opposition, which wants to send the bill to the select committee, feels that Tuesday’s provocation was intended at dividing them ahead of the insurance bill foray.
The Opposition had smelt “mischief” on Monday night itself. Late on Monday night, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had tweeted: “Tomorrow, in a too clever-by-half move, the Modi government has scheduled a discussion on ‘The agricultural problems and solutions’ and added my name to it. The discussion has NOTHING to do with my notice given on July 23rd on the ongoing farmers’ agitation.”
Tomorrow, in a too clever-by-half move the Modi Govt has scheduled a discussion on 'The agricultural problems and solutions' and added my name to it. The discussion has NOTHING to do with my notice given on July 23rd on the ongoing farmers’ agitation. pic.twitter.com/xZ8067jp8H— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) August 9, 2021
On Tuesday, wary that the Centre would pass this off as a debate on the months-long farmers’ agitation, the Opposition resisted the move and a furore ensued for an hour and a half.
AAP’s Sanjay Singh took the lead in climbing on the table when the proceedings were on, resulting in a hasty adjournment. Congressman Pratap Singh Bajwa threw the file at the chair, which was unoccupied as the presiding officer, Bhubaneshwar Kalita, had already left the House.
The government described the incident as a new low in unparliamentary behaviour.
Parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi later told reporters that the government had accepted the Opposition’s demand for a discussion on farmers’ issue. “But the Opposition was not interested in a discussion. That is why they crossed all limits of unparliamentary behaviour. They did not even spare the Chair and heaped insult on it.”
Opposition MPs said the situation was a direct consequence of a mischievous strategy of the government to thrust a general debate on agriculture on the Rajya Sabha instead of the specific issue of farmers’ protests and the repeal of the three contentious farm laws.
Efforts to broker peace by deputy chairman Harivansh yielded no results. The government is now planning to again take up the insurance bill on Wednesday and possibly move for disciplinary action against some Opposition MPs.