Parliament approves repeal of farm laws with voice vote

Parliament approves repeal of farm laws with voice vote
© Provided by The Times of India

NEW DELHI: If their passage was contentious and unleashed a trail of tumultuous events, the burial of the three farm sector reform laws was not a quiet affair either. On the opening day of winter session of Parliament on Monday, the government secured approval of both Houses for the repeal amid protests by the opposition parties which insisted on a debate.

The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021, which sought to rescind the three laws passed last year, was passed by Lok Sabha within minutes. The exercise was replicated in the afternoon in Rajya Sabha. The passage of the legislation for revocation, promised by PM on Guru Nanak’s birthday on November 19, brings the curtains down on an intensely contested episode which saw sustained protests by farmers from Punjab, Haryana and western UP, their tenacity eventually forcing a rethink.

The bill will now be sent to the President for his assent to meet the procedural requirement for the extinction of the three laws.

While the demise of the bills addresses their principal pitch, Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) – the joint body of the protesting farmer unions leading the current protests – has refused to end the agitation and has been pressing the government to concede six other demands they have raised, including a legal guarantee for procurement of crops at MSP, sacking and arrest of junior home minister Ajay Mishra in connection with the Lakhimpur Kheri incident and withdrawal of cases against farmers.

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As the government moved swiftly to meet the PM’s public pledge for the recall of the farm laws and cast off what had become a millstone around its neck, opposition parties led by Congess demanded a discussion, but in vain.

In Lok Sabha, just as Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar introduced the bill, some opposition MPs trooped into the well of the House, raising slogans and holding banners, demanding a debate.

Speaker Om Birla said he was ready to allow discussion on the bill provided there was order in the House. “You want a debate, I am ready to allow debate when there is order in the House. But if you come to the Well, how can there be a debate,” he said asking the members to take their seats.

Congress leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asked why there is no discussion since the bill was listed for consideration and passage. He accused the government of taking the House for a ride.

As opposition MPs continued to shout slogans, the Speaker put the bill to voice vote and declared it as passed.

Tomar introduced the bill in Rajya Sabha after the House assembled in the afternoon. He said there was no need for any discussion as both government and opposition wanted the laws repealed. Importantly, Rajya Sabha had also cleared the three reform laws by voice vote.

On Monday, before the motion was adopted for passage of the bill, Deputy Chairman Harivansh allowed Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge to speak for two minutes.

Kharge said the government had taken back the three farm laws because of the upcoming elections in states. He also mentioned the alleged deaths of over 700 farmers in more than a year during the agitation against these laws.

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