“Rajya Sabha Boycott Till 3 Demands Met”: Opposition Cranks Up Pressure

New Delhi: The opposition will boycott the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha till three key demands, including revoking of the suspension of eight members, are met, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad declared in the upper house today as high drama continued for the third straight day. The suspended members continued their sit-in on the lawns of the parliament complex after spending the night there in protest. They were suspended over Sunday’s unprecedented chaos and “unruly behaviour” in the Rajya Sabha when two controversial farm bills were passed. The Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman is at the heart of opposition protests; their no-confidence motion against him was rejected yesterday by Chairman Venkaiah Naidu.

Here are the top 10 updates on this big story:

  1. Speaking after the Zero Hour, Mr Azad, who is the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, put out three demands including revoking the suspension of the eight members. He also demanded that the government brings a bill which should ensure private players don’t procure food grains below the minimum support price (MSP) fixed by the government. The opposition’s third demand was for the MSP to be based on the recommendations of the MS Swaminathan committee report.

  2. Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh went to the protesting members with tea and served it in cups this morning on the lawns of the parliament complex. The suspended members rebuffed his “tea diplomacy”, calling him “anti-farmer”.

  3. Soon after, Prime Minister Narendra Modi came out strongly in support of Mr Harivansh. “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. It shows his greatness. I join the people of India in congratulating Harivansh Ji,” PM Modi tweeted.

  4. Snubbed after the tea gesture, the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman declared a one-day fast till tomorrow, expressing anguish over attacks by the opposition in parliament. Commenting on Mr Harivansh’s gesture of offering tea, Mr Azad said, “I appreciate it. We may have differing views but we need to act as a family.”

  5. The eight suspended Rajya Sabha members include Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien, Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay singh, Congress’s Rajeev Satav and CPM’s KK Ragesh.

  6. Quoting former Finance Minister and BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley, Mr Azad said in the Rajya Sabha, “In 2016, Arun Jaitley had said that any government will become illegitimate if the speaker refuses to hold voting. In today’s newspapers, there are ads of ‘one nation, one market’. For God’s sake, do not move  towards of ‘one nation, one market’.” To this, Venkaiah Naidu responded, saying, “Arun Jaitley is no more. Arun Jaitley had also spoke about the ‘tyranny of the minority’.”

  7. “You can suspend me. You cannot silence me,” Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien, who is among the eight suspended members, tweeted.

  8. “I am a senior Member of Parliament, I have apologised for what happened in the house, but I didn’t get any response. I found this very insulting. My party has decided to boycott the entire session,” said Samajwadi Party Rajya Sabha member Ram Gopal Yadav.

  9. Opposition members accuse the Deputy Chairman of helping the government rush through the farm bills in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday without following democratic process. Mr Harivansh had rejected their calls for sending the bills to a select committee for review or even to extend the discussion till Monday. The bills were passed with a voice vote after the Chair rejected opposition calls for physical voting and a division of votes.

  10. Dramatic scenes unfolded in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday as angry opposition members climbed onto the Secretary General’s table at the centre of the House, flung a rulebook at Harivansh and pulled out mics. A few members also tore up copies of the bills. In the unprecedented scenes, marshals had to form a wall between the Deputy Chairman and the protesting members.

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