Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Derek O'Brien and Congress MP Rajiv Satav
Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Derek O'Brien and Congress MP Rajiv Satav (R) stage a protest over their suspension from the remaining Monsoon Session of Parliament over the ruckus created in Rajya Sabha, at Parliament House in New Delhi, Tuesday morning, Sept. 22, 2020. Image Credit: PTI

New Delhi: A number of opposition parties on Tuesday staged a walkout from the Rajya Sabha and decided to boycott proceedings of the Upper House till the suspension of eight members is revoked, even as the government insisted on their apology.

Among the parties that boycotted the proceedings of the House were the Congress, which was the among the first to walk out, followed by members of the CPI-M, CPI, TMC, NCP, SP, Shiv Sena, RJD, DMK, TRS and AAP.

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Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said they would boycott the proceedings till the suspension of members is revoked and also demanded that the government bring another bill to ensure that no private player should buy food grains from farmers below the Minimum Support Price (MSP) fixed by the government.

“I demand that the government brings another bill in the House which should ensure that no private player can buy food grains from farmers below the MSP. The government should also ensure that the MSP is fixed as per c2 (rent on land) formula under Swaminathan Committee and they should also ensure that all procurement done by central, state governments and Food Corporation of India be not done below MSP.

Protest farm bill Congress India
A member of India’s opposition Congress party is being carried away by security personnel after he was detained by police during a protest against the passing of new farm bills in parliament, in New Delhi on September 22, 2020. Three bills were approved on September 20 that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said would achieve a "complete transformation of the agriculture sector" and empower "tens of millions of farmers". Image Credit: AFP

“The colleagues who have been suspended for the rest of the session, their suspension be revoked. Till the government does these three things, we will boycott the session,” he said in the House while walking out. Eight members of Rajya Sabha were suspended on Monday over their “unruly behaviour” during the passage of the two key farm bills on Sunday. Azad also said members should get more time to speak and time constraint has become a major issue of discontent among opposition parties.

Maintaining that the voice of the opposition and rights of members are not heard and bills are not sent for scrutiny to Select Committee or Standing Committees, Azad said, “I think the day before yesterday was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.” The Congress leader said the government now wants “one nation, one market” with which they have no problem.

'Chair dragged into controversy'

“The government earlier said ‘one nation, one tax’ and then ‘one nation, one ration card’, but for God’s sake, don’t go towards ‘one nation, one party’.” Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu lamented that the chair has been dragged into the controversy and said members should not put the blame on the chair.

Naidu made a fresh appeal to members of all opposition parties to rethink their decision of boycotting proceedings and participate in discussions of the House. “I appeal to all members to rethink their decision of boycott and participate in the discussion,” he said.

The Chairman said democracy is for debate, discussion and decision and not disruption. He also lamented that the suspended members in an interview justified their action and showed no remorse. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said: “The government is not hell-bent upon keeping the suspended MPs out of the House”.

“If they express regret, the government will look into it,” he said on demands by some members that their suspension should be revoked and that the government should have a large heart.

Leader of the House Thaawarchand Gehlot said the suspended members tried to portray that it is the mistake of the Chair and not the opposition.

“This is not proper. Everyone is condemning that day’s incident and saying it is sad. LoP also termed it sad but he tried to prove it by saying against the Chair, that the chair had taken a wrong decision. This is not proper. I want to bring this on record. I have 35 years of parliamentary experience, have not seen such a sad incident in my life.

“Breaking mikes, sitting on table, showing hands at Harivansh Ji, climbing on table, tearing the rule book and bill’s copy. This is condemnable and sad state of affairs. The LoP’s allegation on chair is not justifiable. The Chair’s decision is supreme, its disrespect is not proper,”he said.

Former PM and JDS leader HD Deve Gowda said the government and Opposition should sit together to run the House. Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) said, “A mistake has taken place by opposition members, but elders should be large hearted. I urge that their suspension be revoked and I apologise on their behalf”. K Keshava Rao (TRS) said whatever happened in the House is condemnable and “we are sorry for it”. Tiruchi Siva said opposition members got agitated after the chair did not allow division of votes.

Ram Chandra Prasad SIngh (JDU) said, “What was their intention as they were tearing papers and throwing at Harivash babu. Division can happen only when there will be order. “

They showed aggression towards Harivash, he said, adding “It is his (Harivansh) decency that no untoward incident took place. This is not good. They disobeyed, staged dharna as if fighting for the freedom of the country. This should not be forgiven.”.

Praful Patel (NCP) said his party has never entered the well or did anything which is not in the best parliamentary traditions.

Those suspended include Derek O’Brien (TMC), Sanjay Singh (AAP), Rajeev Satav (Cong), K K Ragesh (CPI-M), Syed Nazir Hussain (Cong), Ripun Boren (Cong), Dola Sen (TMC) and Elamaram Kareem (CPI-M).