A bill to cancel the three controversial farm laws at the heart of massive farmer protests for over a year was passed within four minutes in parliament today, without discussion.
The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 was introduced in the Lok Sabha at 12.06 pm and passed at 12.10 pm. The house adjourned within seconds amid loud protests from the opposition benches. Shortly afterwards, the government expressed hope that it would be cleared today in the Rajya Sabha as well.
The blink-and-miss proceedings were wedged between two adjournments over disruptions on the opening day of the Winter Session of parliament.
When the three farm bills were passed in 2020, the opposition had accused the government of ramming it through without much discussion.
It was deja vu today for the opposition, which alleged that the government wanted to avoid facing questions on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s u-turn on the bills just before polls.
“We demanded a discussion on the repeal Bill to speak about the Lakhimpur Kheri incident and orders. Without discussion the Bill has been passed,” said Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, referring to the violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3 when protesting farmers were run over allegedly by an SUV driven by a Union Minister’s son.
The opposition referred to PM Modi’s words just before the session started, that the government was ready to reply to all questions.
“There have been six repeal Bills in the past but there were discussion in all the earlier occasions. The government doesn’t want the Opposition to speak,” the Lok Sabha member said.
His Congress colleague Shashi Tharoor also objected strongly to the government’s conduct.
“What they did is wrong. We wanted to raise the farmers’ demand for a law guaranteeing Minimum Support Price (MSP) and compensation for farmers who died during protests. But the government denied us that chance,” Mr Tharoor told NDTV.
“This government doesn’t want discussion. They have problem with debate,” said Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP Supriya Sule.
Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the Bill will now go to the Rajya Sabha for passing.
“The demand was that the farm bills be withdrawn. Even the opposition favoured it. When we were bringing the bill they started disrupting the house. Why were they protesting? It was deliberate,” Mr Joshi said.