Budget Session: In RS, Rajnath Singh says status quo at LAC to be restored; Rahul's remarks over farm laws roil LS

After the Opposition's attempt to seek a clarification on the defence minister's statement was stymied by Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu the discussion turned to the budget and farm laws

FP Staff February 12, 2021 00:01:05 IST
Budget Session: In RS, Rajnath Singh says status quo at LAC to be restored; Rahul's remarks over farm laws roil LS

File photo of Parliament building. PTI

The Chinese defence ministry's announcement on Wednesday that Indian and Chinese troops were beginning "synchronised and organised disengagement" in eastern Ladakh and the lack of statement on the same from the Indian Army left all eyes on Union defence minister Rajnath Singh in the Budget Session of Parliament on Thursday.

Rajnath, addressing both Houses of the Parliament on Thursday, confirmed that the Chinese Army would pull back its troops to the east of Finger 8 areas in the northern bank of the Pangong lake, and in return, Indian troops would be based at their permanent location at Dhan Singh Thapa post near Finger 3 areas.

After the Opposition's attempt to seek clarification on the defence minister's statement was stymied by Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu, the discussion turned to the budget and farm laws.

In the Lower House, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi caused an uproar with his criticism of the farm laws.

Criticising the intent behind the farm laws, Rahul said the BJP government follows a “hum do hamare do” policy. "Only four to five people are running the country," Rahul alleged, adding, "The new farm laws will destroy India's food security system and will hurt the rural economy."

Rahul was countered by both Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and Union minister Smriti Irani.

Thakur, taking exception to Rahul's comments, stated that that there is no provision in the farm laws which says that mandis will be closed.

Following are the key updates from the day:

Rajya Sabha

Speaking in Rajya Sabha on Thursday morning, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said India and China would "remove forward deployments in a phased and a coordinated manner" and that senior commanders from both sides would meet within 48 hours after disengagement from Pangong.

"Status quo will be restored," Rajnath added.

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Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu, disallowing the Opposition's attempt to seek clarification on Rajnath's statement, said, "This is a matter of national unity and security."

"Discussions have been going on for the past 48 hours, and you want to create controversy? It is not good," Naidu added.

Soon after Rajnath made the statement in the Upper House, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi slammed the Centre on Twitter:

Ravi Shankar Prasad slams Twitter

In the backdrop of Centre's row with Twitter, speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad Thursday took aim at social media companies.

"We have flagged Twitter, and is in dialogue with them. Why is it that when the police has to act in US Capitol Hill they stand in support, but when a similar action is taken at Red Fort, they oppose it? Freedom of speech is there, but with reasonable restrictions. Why double standards?” Prasad said.

"I have a message for social media platforms — freedom is important, but showing revenge sex video, street fights, porn videos, family issues on social media? Revisit unbridled exposure of double-standards of your own guidelines," he added.

'Repeal laws or legalise MSP'

Shiromani Akali Dal MP Naresh Gujral, bringing the discussion to the farm laws, urged the Centre to legalise MSP or to repeal 'black laws' and pledged support to farmers.

"Why not legalise MSP by putting it in the law," he asked.

"The day you do that, the farmers will return to their homes. I must tell the government's spokespersons to stop defaming the farmers. And force will be of no use against the farmers. The farmers will go home only when they can say, 'fateh, fateh, fateh' (victory, victory, victory)," he said.

Adding his voice to the discussion, Samajwadi Party leader Vishambhar Prasad Nishad demanded a repeal of three contentious farm laws and pitched for a new law to make Minimum Support Price (MSP) mandatory for the procurement of agriculture produce.

"The farm bills were drafted on the directions of corporates. When the farmers do not want these bills, why are these being imposed on them? I demand that the farm laws should be taken back and a new law to guarantee MSP should be brought."

Nishad pointed out that there is no special package in the budget for the farmers of the parched Bundelkhand region.

'Budget has nothing for poor'

With the discussion turning to the Budget, former Union minister P Chidambaram, claimed that "incompetent management would undo growth achieved in 3 to 4 years".

"Mark my words, the growth projections will fall short by the end of 2021," he said.

"The finance minister had objected to my use of the word incompetent while describing this government's policies.

"But I repeat myself, for I have no milder word available to describe this situation. The incompetent economic management will push us back to the numbers we had in 2017.

"You have ignored the bulk of India. Who is this budget for?' 'The Budget has nothing for the poor. It is for the rich, by the rich, of the rich," Chidambaram concluded.

Speaking before the adjournment for the day, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur said he encourages debate and discussion on the Budget.

He claimed that the poor population benefited the most from the policies of the BJP-led government, adding that the Budget has received positive reviews from all states.

"Modi government has brought a historic number of people out of the poverty line. The Budget has also benefited women and children," he added.

The Upper House was then adjourned for the day at 3.15 pm.

Lok Sabha

 Addressing the Lok Sabha on Thursday evening, Rajnath reasserted that India had not made any concessions to China.

"I want to assure this House that in these talks we have not conceded anything. The House should also know that there are still some outstanding issues with regard to deployment and patrolling at some other points along the LAC in eastern Ladakh," he said.

"These will be the focus of further discussions with the Chinese side. We've agreed that both sides should achieve complete disengagement at the earliest and abide fully by the bilateral agreements and protocols. By now, the Chinese side is also fully aware of our resolve," he added.

After Rajnath's address, Rahul began to speak amid a few parliamentarians voicing their opposition to the Congress leader speaking on the farm laws during a debate on the Budget.

'Laws made to increase hoarding of items'

Rahul, attacking the government for the farm laws, claimed that the content of the first laws was to "finish the mandis" whereas the content of the second law was "to allow corporates to increase hoarding".

"The content of the first law is that one can have unlimited purchase of foodgrains, fruits and vegetables anywhere in the country. If the purchase is unlimited anywhere in the country, then who would go to mandis? The content of the first law is to finish the mandis," the Congress leader said.

Stating that the farmers' protest is not just an agitation of farmers but an "agitation of the country", the former Congress chief also said that farmers only showing the way and that the government will have to repeal laws.

Rahul said his speech is only focused on farm laws in protest against Speaker's decision to not allow separate debate on the issue.

Thakur and Irani, speaking after Rahul, launched personal attacks on the Congress leader.

"I can understand that Honourable member may not have prepared his speech on the Budget.  He wasn’t here for other speeches. Some people remain very little both inside the House and indeed the country," Thakur said, before hailing the Narendra Modi government for uplifting the lives of the poor.

"It’s an optimistic budget and it will set the path for India to be an economic and manufacturing powerhouse. Some will oppose according to their views. Some raised slogans of gareebi hatao, five generations have ruled but poverty did not go. But the son of a poor man lifted many out of poverty. Some people only make electoral promises and not deliver," Thakur added.

Speaking towards the latter part of the day, Union minister Smriti Irani said it is "not acceptable" for Rahul to discuss the Budget in this House.

"Budget is to make India self-reliant, to connect India. Those who supported slogans calling for fragmentation of India can never support Budget dedicated to India,"  Irani stated.

Further hitting out at Rahul, Irani said she was surprised because "he never gets involved in the discussion of the system in the region from where he was an MP even though he expresses concerns about the mandi system in that region".

The Lok Sabha proceedings were extended till midnight.

With inputs from PTI

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