"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 the revocation of the suspension of eight members, are met, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad declared in the upper house today even as 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 in the Rajya Sabha when controversial farm bills were passed.

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.

High drama continued for the third straight day when Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh went to the protesting members with tea and served it in cups this morning. The suspended members rebuffed his "tea diplomacy", calling him "anti-farmer".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi came out strongly in support of 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.

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."

"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'," Mr Azad said

"Arun Jaitley is no more. Arun Jaitley had also spoke about the 'tyranny of the minority'," RajyaSa Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu responded. 

"You can suspend me. You cannot silence me," Trinamool Congress's Derek O'Brien, who is among the eight suspended members, tweeted.