Suspended MPs protest overnight, Harivansh offers tea, PM lauds gesture
Eight members of the Rajya Sabha, who were suspended by Chairman Venkaiah Naidu on Monday over the ruckus a day earlier, spent the night at the Parliament complex, continuing their protest over the passage of farm Bills. This morning, Deputy Chairman Harivansh Singh, who was accused of bypassing the House's laws, brought them tea. This move was appreciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The unprecedented Monsoon Session witnessed unusual scenes on Sunday when Singh let two key Bills pass the Rajya Sabha test through a voice note. The opposition MPs, who wanted the matter to be taken up yesterday, came to the well of the House, raised slogans, and some even climbed on the podium. Angry at the behavior, Naidu suspended eight MPs on Monday.
The MPs who were suspended are Congress' Rajeev Satav, Syed Naseer Hussain, and Ripun Bora; Trinamool Congress's Derek O'Brien and Dola Sen; AAP's Sanjay Singh; and CPI(M)'s KK Ragesh and Elamaram Kareem. However, despite being punished, they refused to leave, and eventually, the House was adjourned. Thereafter, they took their protest to the lawns, sat next to the Gandhi statue, and held placards.
The suspended MPs didn't budge even after sunset and remained at the lawns. Occasionally, they were offered snacks, packed juices, and cold drinks. They were also visited by a stream of leaders including Ahmed Patel, Gaurav Gogoi, and Shashi Tharoor (Congress); Manoj Jha (RJD); and few Trinamool leaders. They held on to placards reading "We will fight for farmers," "Democracy murdered" and "Parliament assassinated."
In the evening, Ragesh told others his wife was making idlis and was asked to bring them after 7 pm. While Sen sang songs, Sanjay Singh spent a lot of time giving interviews, reports HT. Satav spent his birthday at the protest. When one of the protesting MPs was asked about the bygone night, he told India Today, "Odomos was the life-saver!"
This morning, one of the first persons to pay a visit to the MPs was Deputy Chairman Singh. He brought a kettle of tea along but that wasn't enough to placate the angry members. Rejecting his tea diplomacy, the MPs called him "anti-farmer," reports NDTV. To recall, as he suspended the MPs, Naidu had said he was concerned about the well-being of his deputy.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has largely blamed vested interests for the situation, lauded Singh's gesture of offering tea to protesting MPs. "To personally serve tea to those who attacked and insulted him a few days ago as well as those sitting on Dharna shows that Shri Harivansh Ji has been blessed with a humble mind and a big heart," he tweeted.
"In line with that wonderful ethos, MP from Bihar and Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson Shri Harivansh Ji's inspiring and statesmanlike conduct this morning will make every democracy lover proud," PM Modi's tweet read.
Talking about Singh's gesture, Bora said he paid a visit not as the Deputy Chairman, but as a colleague. "No one from the government has come to enquire about us. Many opposition leaders came to enquire about us and to show solidarity with us. We are going to continue this demonstration," Bora told ANI. Notably, this is the first time MPs protested through the night.
Meanwhile, Congress plans to continue slamming BJP over the Bills, hence, has planned a nationwide agitation, starting Thursday. As a part of the agitation, marches will be held at district levels and signatures of at least two crore farmers will be taken. The signatures will then be submitted to President Ram Nath Kovind. To note, the Bills only need Kovind's approval to become laws.
Facing criticism from several quarters, BJP released full-page advertisements in leading newspapers to counter the "misinformation campaign." BJP assured farmers that these Bills will free them and won't impact the Mandi system. Taking a jibe at BJP over these advertisements, Congress' P Chidambaram asked how will one market help farmers when instead they need "many thousand markets." He also asked for more guarantee on MSPs.
If the government’s intention is to guarantee MSP, why is there no clause in the Bills that stipulates that the “price shall not be less than the MSP” for that produce?— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) September 22, 2020