Disdainful haste : The Tribune India

Disdainful haste

Ugly scenes in Parliament only accentuate farmers’ anxieties

Disdainful haste

Photo for representation only. - PTI File photo

There could not have been greater irony than what was on display on Sunday afternoon when the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 — one of the two controversial farm Bills — was made into law with no ‘agreement’ whatsoever between the government and farmers or the Opposition, which was denied its right to seek a division. The only sector in the Indian economy that survived the Covid contraction is now being forced to suffer needless anxiety, with the government refusing to address farmers’ legitimate apprehensions. Their fears have only worsened after the Opposition’s demand to send the Bills to a select committee for parliamentary scrutiny was denied and dumped.

The government’s hideous hurry to pass the legislations resulted in unseemly scenes in the Rajya Sabha, with the rule book being flung at the chair, microphones broken, members climbing atop the secretary general’s table and even the Lok Sabha having to be adjourned because of the sit-in protest by Rajya Sabha members. Parliament is all about the Opposition. When 12 Opposition parties seek a vote on resolutions against the Bills, the Chair should have allowed the division; instead, the resolutions were denied and the Bills passed with a mere voice vote, devaluing the entire process.

If the reforms are indeed beneficial for the farmers, the government should have let the Bills go through the parliamentary process while responding to each and every query inside and outside Parliament, assuaging the hurtful disquiet among the farming community. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who prides himself as a representative of the farmers, in a newspaper article insists that ‘I would like to assure that whether it’s Minimum Support Price or Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees, all existing systems will continue’. The Prime Minister could have made similar, solemn promises during the debate. The government should not try to brazen out the damage caused by the ugly altercations in Parliament, for it would only be understood as arrogance of power. It should patiently explain the Bills, clause by clause, and be ready to undo whatever provisions that may hurt farmers’ interest.

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