Monsoon Session of Parliament, Day 7: Suspension of Oppn MPs, farmers' crisis dominate proceedings

It was an uneventful seventh day of the Monsoon Session of Parliament, with the Lok Sabha unable to get any business done following two adjournments. The first adjournment was called to allow ministers to partake in the swearing-in ceremony of the 14th President of India and Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the Lower House for the day after the Opposition started demanding the revocation of suspension of the six members of Parliament who were suspended on Monday.

Prakash Javadekar had tried to introduce the IIIT Bill, but was cut short by shouting Opposition members.

 Monsoon Session of Parliament, Day 7: Suspension of Oppn MPs, farmers crisis dominate proceedings

Arun Jaitley in Rajya Sabha. PTI

Opposition parties in the Lok Sabha urged "kind-hearted" Mahajan to revoke the suspension of six MPs. Mahajan, however, said she didn't want to comment on the issue immediately.

The six Congress MPs — Gaurav Gogoi, K Suresh, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Ranjeet Ranjan, Sushmita Dev and MK Raghavan — were suspended on Monday for causing "grave disorder" by storming the Well, tearing papers and throwing them towards the Chair during their protest over growing incidents of lynching by cow vigilantes.

Raising the issue in the House, Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge appealed to the Speaker to revoke the suspension of the six party members. "Madam, we appeal to the House to revoke the suspension of six of our members. You are very kind-hearted," Kharge said.

Following the ruckus created by the Opposition, Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day.

Opposition parties, led by Congress, protested the suspension at Mahatma Gandhi's statue in Parliament House on Tuesday.

Leaders of the Congress, Trinamool Congress, RJD, JDU and Left parties shouted slogans against the Narendra Modi government and urged Mahajan to reconsider her decision. Congress' Rahul Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge, JDU's Sharad Yadav, CPI's D Raja, NCP's Supriya Sule and TMC leaders, including Kalyan Banerjee, were among those who led the protests.

Meanwhile, in the Rajya Sabha

Rajya Sabha chairman informed the Upper House of the demise of former Member of Parliament Shivajirao Girdhar Patil and the House paid its respects to the departed member.

During a discussion on the agrarian crisis, the Congress blamed the central government and said that fixing of import-export levies on foodgrains was one of the biggest scams impacting the farmers.

Initiating a short-duration discussion on the "farmers' distress leading to rise in the incidents of their suicide", Congress leader Digvijaya Singh accused the government of being "insensitive" to the plight of the agriculturists. He said farmers in Madhya Pradesh had faced bullets on the centenary of the Champaran agitation in which Mahatma Gandhi had raised his voice against British exploitation.

Singh said despite the bumper crop, import duty on wheat was reduced initially to 10 percent from 25 percent and then to zero in December, impacting farmers, because imported wheat was available at cheaper prices. Singh quoted agriculture scientist MS Swaminathan to say that import of agricultural commodities was like outsourcing farmers' skill to outside.

The Congress leader also alleged that there was corruption in Food Corporation of India (FCI) and National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED). He alleged that after demonetisation, restrictions on cattle sale hit farmers. He also said that he has very little hope from the agriculture minister because the seat of power in the BJP-led Central government rests in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

Prabhat Jha of BJP hit back at Singh and said that Madhya Pradesh (ruled by the BJP) is the first state to implement the MS Swaminathan report.

Meanwhile, Derek O'Brien of the TMC urged all states to follow West bengal's model of crop insurance. "The annual income of farmers from 2010 to 2016 in Bengal has moved up from Rs 91,000 to Rs 2,00,000. I request everyone to look at Bengal's model, which is working very well. What is unique in Bengal is that the state and central government give the entire money. The farmer doesn't even pay one rupee," he said.

The Opposition also raised the issue of preparedness of the defence forces, in the wake of a CAG report flagging that the Indian Army was facing a critical shortage of ammunition, which would last just 10 days of war. To this, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley replied that the armed forces are "reasonably and sufficiently equipped" to defend the sovereignty of the country. Jaitley said the CAG report has a reference to the shortage of ammunition regarding a particular point of time. "Subsequently thereafter, significant progress has been made," he said.

The Opposition also sought to know why the Reserve Bank of India has not yet provided the number of demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes returned in the banking system, even nine months after the note ban decision. Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Anand Sharma of Congress said, "Even a child is delivered in nine months," but the country doesn't know how many of the old and junked currency notes were returned.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Jul 25, 2017 19:12:01 IST

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