India

"Should Return Farm Bills": Leader Of Opposition After Meeting President

Opposition leaders carried out a silent march outside parliament today.

New Delhi:

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad today met with President Ram Nath Kovind even as the opposition parties continued their protest against the controversial farm bills, which have cleared the parliament. The meeting between Mr Azad, who is also the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, and the President comes a day after the opposition parties boycotted parliament.

"The government should have consulted all parties and farmer leaders before bringing the farm bills," Mr Azad said after meeting the President. "There was no division of votes and no voice voting. The Constitution was undermined in the temple of democracy. We have given a representation to President that the farm bills have been passed unconstitutionally and he should return these bills," Mr Azad said, news agency ANI reported.

The monsoon session of parliament - which started after nearly five months of indefinite adjournment - ends today, eight days ahead of schedule over coronavirus crisis concerns; the Rajya Sabha session ended this afternoon.

On Tuesday, opposition leaders boycotted parliament in protest over the three bills related to the agriculture sector and the suspension of eight MPs over chaos and "unruly behaviour" in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday when two of the three bills were passed.

Yesterday, Rajya Sabha cleared seven bills in three-and-a-half hours in the absence of opposition parties. Mr Azad this afternoon wrote to Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu, urging him not to pass the three controversial labour bills, stressing: "These bills affect the livelihood of crores of workers. It will be a great blot on democracy to have these bills passed unilaterally today." The government has said the three labour bills, cleared by Rajya Sabha, will give a safe environment to workers.

Visuals showed opposition leaders protesting outside the parliament today with placards.

Mr Azad on Tuesday had spelt out three demands linked to the minimum support price (MSP) of crops on behalf of the opposition. The opposition also demanded revocation of suspension of the eight Rajya Sabha members, including Trinamool Congress's Derek O'Brien, Aam Aadmi Party's Sanjay Singh, Congress's Rajeev Satav and CPM's KK Ragesh.

The suspended members continued their sit-in on the lawns of the parliament complex on Tuesday till about 11.30 am after spending the night there in protest. "We will consider revoking suspension only after the suspended Rajya Sabha members apologise for their behaviour," Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters on Tuesday.