New Delhi: At least 20 opposition MPs on Monday wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind, urging him not to grant assent to the controversial Agriculture Bills, alleging that the way they were passed without any debate was a “murder of democracy”.
“We, belonging to diverse political parties cutting across India’s political and geographical spectrum, bring this representation to you to respectfully draw your urgent attention to the absolute and total murder of democracy, ironically in the most hallowed temple of democracy, parliament,” read the letter signed by leaders of the Congress, the Left, the NCP, the DMK, the Samajwadi Party, the Shiv Sena, the Janat Dal-Secular, the Trinamool Congress and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, among others.
The Opposition MPs said that the issue raised is, however, of much wider importance.
“We are concerned with something which affects the very backbone of the Indian Republic viz its ‘annadata’, the community of farmers,” they said.
It said that on issue like this, “majoritarian, insensitive and uncaring” governance has no role and all stakeholders have to listen, absorb, imbibe and thereafter act with humility. There is no place for the politics of ‘zid’ (stubbornness) and arrogance. Instead the voice of those speaking for the farmers was sought to be stifled.
“Most unfortunately, the latter was in full force in government instructions to all, given with the brazen object of ramming legislation down the throat of disagreeing Parliamentarians without allowing it to be tested freely and fairly by vote by division,” it said.
It further said that the Bills were purportedly treated as passed though were never voted upon.
“Division, asked not by one but innumerable Members, was denied,” it alleged, adding that motions and statutory resolutions, including for amendments were not even looked at, much less considered.
“No attempt was made to even try for a sense of the House or a consensus as to whether the House should sit beyond the strictly prescribed 1 p.m. or continue the next day. September 20, most inexplicably and mysteriously, was treated as if it was the last day of the Session and as if heavens would fall if voting with division was heald on September 21,” it said.
It further said that massive show of force was exerted by security personnel invited inside the House in numbers exceeding those of the MPs present.
“Almost half the Rajya Sabha was seated in the LOk Sabha chamber and the chair neither looked towards them; large parts of the proceedings in the RS chamber were not even audible to those of the RS in the LS chamber. It further said that the egregious and brazen acts of the government, in clear collusion with the legislative organ of our Republic, is also proof positive of the lack of numbers and lack of support with the government qua passage of these Bills.
“It is clear that the government was fully aware that the Bills could not and would not be passed due to wide opposition, cutting across political lines, including strong opposition from several NDA allies and supporters and consequently tactics were adopted to supposedly pass the Bills in a tyrannical manner unknown to our Constitution,” it alleged.
“We pray that you return the bills and do not append your signature,” it said.
In the morning, Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu suspended eight MPs, minutes after the House reconvened. These lawmakers from the Trinamool Congress, the Congress, the Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Aam Aadmi Party were accused of creating ruckus in Parliament on Sunday.
The motion was moved by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V. Muraleedharan, following which the House suspended Derek O’Brien and Dola Sen of the Trinamool, Rajeev Satav, Ripun Bora, and Syed Naseer Hussain of the Congress, Sanjay Singh of the AAP and K.K. Ragesh and E Kareem of the CPI-M.
The opposition members indulged in sloganeering after the resolution was moved by voice vote.
Earlier, Naidu said that it was a “sad day for democracy” and “unfortunate” and “condemnable”, as he rejected a no-confidence motion against Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh.
The Rajya Sabha witnessed bedlam on Sunday as the government sought to get cleared two of the three contentious farm Bills amid unrelenting opposition protests. O’Brien allegedly tore a rule book while Satav and Sanjay Singh climbed on a table in the House to protest.