Rahul Gandhi, other MPs protest at Parliament against farm laws
Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi and other Members of Parliament from the party today protested against the new agricultural laws at the Parliament House. Members of the Shiromani Akali Dal, a former ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, also held a protest and showed placards to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. Meanwhile, both the Parliament Houses were adjourned amid uproar by Opposition.
'Do justice to farmers,' shouted the leaders
Congress leaders held the protest in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue at the Parliament premises, shouting slogans against the government like "Do justice to farmers" and "Modi is anti-farmers." Amid sloganeering, the Lok Sabha or the Lower House of the Parliament was adjourned until noon, while the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House) was adjourned until 2 pm.
Congress MPs gave notices to discuss farmers' issue
Earlier in the day, two Congress MPs, including K Suresh and Manickam Tagore, had given adjournment motion notices in the Lok Sabha, demanding to discuss the months-long farmers' agitation. "The rights of farmers to their land and produce are sacrosanct and need to be protected. The anti-farmer legislations by the government must be repealed and farmers be heard," Suresh reportedly said.
Government is 'farmer-friendly,' ready to talk: Minister
Tomar, however, said the government is "farmer-friendly" and ready to talk to the farmers about the laws. "The country has witnessed that these farm laws are beneficial and are in favor of the farmers. We have had discussions about these laws. If they express their issues with the laws point-wise, we can discuss it," the Minister reportedly said.
Farmers to protest at Jantar Mantar from today
The protests at the Parliament coincide with farmers' protest, taking place nearly a mile away, at the Jantar Mantar today. Nearly 200 representatives of several farmers' bodies will go to the Jantar Mantar daily from today to August 9 and hold a "Farmers' Parliament." They were granted permission to hold the demonstrations by the Delhi Police, provided they follow COVID-19 protocols and maintain peace.
Heavy security deployed at the Jantar Mantar
Security personnel have been deployed at the Jantar Mantar. On Wednesday, top Delhi Police officials had visited the monument to review security arrangements there. In fact, most routes leading to Delhi have been put under surveillance.
Farmers protesting near Delhi since last year
Thousands of farmers have been camping at Delhi's borders to protest against three new agricultural laws. They are demanding a complete withdrawal of the laws and multiple rounds of discussions between them and the government have failed to end the agitation. The Centre says the reforms will uplift farmers, while they argue that the laws will make them vulnerable to big corporates.
What are the new laws?
The controversial laws are - Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
Government introduces Bills in the Lok Sabha
Separately, the government today introduced two Bills in the Lok Sabha: 1) The Inland Vessels Bill, 2021. 2) The Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021. Other Bills that are scheduled to be considered today are the Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020; the National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021, and the Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021.