Rajat Sharma

Nation will never forgive the erring MPs

akb0809On Sunday, opposition MPs in Rajya Sabha created bedlam during the passage of two farm bills. Some of them stood on the Secretary General’s table, several others stood on the podium of the Chairman, yanked the Deputy Chairperson Harivansh’s mike, heckled him continuously, tore papers in the well of the House and misbehaved with the marshals. Some of them hurled papers and rule books at the Deputy Chairperson and tried to intimidate him with threats and abuses.

The opposition MPs were demanding that the bills be sent to a House Committee, but they lacked the numbers. According to Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, only over 70 MPs opposed the bills, while 110 members supported the bills. No division could be carried out because of bedlam created by the opposition.

This was one of the dark moments in India’s 70-year-long parliamentary history. The nation will never forgive the MPs for their irresponsible and shameful conduct. The Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu on Monday suspended the eight erring MPs for a week. These MPs sat on dharna inside Parliament premises after the House was adjourned.

On Tuesday morning, the nation watched as the Deputy Chairperson Harivansh brought tea from his home, came to the dharna site, and personally offered tea to the suspended MPs. This was a humane gesture from Harivansh. It displays his large heartedness and high moral values.

If lawmakers break their own rules, throw decorum to the wind, how can they expect respect from the common man? If MPs start insulting their own presiding officer, break mikes and tear up papers, do they think the common people will appreciate their behavior? Rajya Sabha is known as the House of Elders, where members with vast experience and knowledge in different fields, representing all the states, sit and frame laws.

Those MPs who indulged in hooliganism forgot that they were violating social distancing norms in the time of Corona. They were deliberately breaking all strict protocols that were meticulously prepared by the presiding officers of both Houses of Parliament for smooth conduct of proceedings. The action of the Rajya Sabha Chairman in suspending the erring MPs for a week is a step in the right direction. Every political leader has the right to question, to oppose, to express dissent and to convey the voice of the people, but the manner in which these MPs behaved inside the House is totally unacceptable.

It is not that the government is not trying to allay to fears and apprehensions being expressed over the farm bills. The Prime Minister himself has time and again said that neither the agricultural produce marketing committees (APMCs), known as mandis, will not be abolished, nor the MSPs (minimum support price) of cereals and other produces will be discontinued. Farmers in many states are being fed baseless rumours and they are being misguided by opposition leaders.

The Congress is playing a double game on the farm bills issue. In the recent past, former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had advocated abolition of ‘mandis’, Ajay Maken, with Rahul Gandhi sitting beside him, had released the party’s 2019 election manifesto promising abolition of ‘mandis’ and promotion of contract farming. Even Kapil Sibal had spoken in favour of contract farming and abolition of ‘mandis’ during his speech in Parliament.

This is not the first time that Congress has indulged in such tactics. In 2014, when the Narendra Modi government had brought the land acquisition bill, Rahul Gandhi had described the government as ‘suit-boot ki sarkar’. He had then alleged that the Modi government was helping the Adanis and Ambanis, and had told farmers that the government would hand over their farmland to industrialists at a pittance. It was the first year of Modi’s rule, and in order to assuage the feelings of farmers, the government, bowing to opposition, withdrew the land acquisition bill.

But now, the times have changed. Farmers in India have seen how Modi government has helped them during the last six years. From crop insurance, to soil card, from direct transfer of Rs 6,000 to the account of each farmers to big hikes in MSPs, Modi government has done a lot for farmers. Now, it has come with these new bills to transform Indian agriculture. The average income of farmers is bound to go up after removal of all restrictions on sale of farm produce. The middlemen and commission agents, who were cornering most of the farmers’ profits, will be removed forever, and farmers will pocket the profits.

This will definitely change the face of rural economy, and it will have a bandwagon effect on Indian economy which is presently struggling due to COVID pandemic. The days of middlemen are gone and it would be better if the opposition parties realize this and start speaking in the interest of the farmers. On its part, the Modi government has tackled the opposition in Parliament, and it is now ready to face them in the streets.

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