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Boycott gives BJP free run of the House

07:45 AM Sep 23, 2020 | FPJ News Service

The united Opposition on Tuesday boycotted both the Houses of Parliament in protest against the forced passage of two farm Bills in violation of parliamentary norms and the suspension of eight members.

That left the floor wide open for the BJP, its allies and friendly parties to push their agenda.
The boycott came initially in the Rajya Sabha in the morning and percolated to the Lok Sabha in the afternoon.

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The Opposition appears in no mood to relent, leaving no choice for the government but to wind up the session early, instead of carrying on with the one-dimensional proceedings till October 1.
Leaders in both Houses insisted that the government should withdraw the farm bills as passed in Parliament and send them to a select committee.

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Azad, the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, spelt out three demands, the first of which was that the government brings a bill which ensures private players don't procure foodgrains below the MSP fixed by the government; the second demand was that the MSP be based on the recommendations of the MS Swaminathan committee report; thirdly, that the procurement be done by either the government or the Food Corporation of India.

The Opposition failed in its concerted attempt to get the suspension of the MPs revoked for their misconduct in the Rajya Sabha. Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu cited how all of them had justified their actions in an interview to the Indian Express, instead of showing any sign of remorse.
The suspended MPs continued to protest under Mahatma Gandhi's statue, the only relief coming from an unexpected quarter, with deputy chairman Harivansh bringing them the morning tea. They had played on his nerves on Sunday with their shabby behaviour.

Naidu also noted that their protest was wrong and illegal under the rules that prohibit any demonstration on the Parliament House premises. In an impromptu hour-long debate, the Chairman, however, said he won't come between the government and the Opposition if both agree to revoke the suspension.

The Rajya Sabha sat an extra hour and passed all the seven Bills on its agenda with one-sided voting; there was a replay in the Lok Sabha where three labour codes received support of all those remaining in the House.

The parties which stayed back in both the Houses and voted for the Government Bills included the Janata Dal(U), the BJD, the AIADMK, the TDP and the YSR Congress Party and, of course, the BJP.

Navneet Ravi Rana, an independent member from Amravati, was among those who spoke on the Bills on the labour code.
At a press conference, where the Congress gave a call for a nationwide agitation from Thursday, chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala and four MPs told reporters that keeping the MSP out of the farm bills is a clear conspiracy of the Modi government.

Surjewala said the boycott will continue until the suspension of eight MPs is revoked, while government leaders led by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad insisted that those suspended should first tender an unqualified apology and stop the protest "sit-in" in the Parliament House compound.

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