India

Sharad Pawar's Fast Today To Show Support For 8 Suspended Rajya Sabha MPs

Sharad Pawar's Fast Today To Show Support For 8 Suspended Rajya Sabha MPs

Sharad Pawar today announced a one-day fast to express solidarity with 8 suspended Rajya Sabha members.

New Delhi:

Veteran Maharashtra leader Sharad Pawar today announced a one-day fast to express solidarity with eight Rajya Sabha members suspended over chaos during a vote on controversial farm bills. The Congress and other opposition parties have announced a boycott of the Rajya Sabha for the rest of the session unless the suspension is revoked.

"I will not eat anything today in solidarity with the protesting members," Sharad Pawar, a Rajya Sabha member of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), told reporters.

On Sunday, two farm bills were passed through a voice vote in Rajya Sabha amid massive opposition protests. A rulebook was flung at the Chair, two members climbed onto a table, papers were torn and tossed in the air and mics were ripped off as the opposition tried to block the vote.

The opposition has accused Deputy Chairman Harivansh, who was in the Chair at the time, of helping the government rush the bills in the house despite its lack of numbers. The parties allege that their demands for more discussion on the bills were rejected, and a voice vote was forced in the house.

"I have never seen bills being passed like this. They (the government) wanted to pass these bills soon. Members had questions regarding the bill. Prima facie it seems like they did not want a discussion... When members did not get a response they came into the well," Mr Pawar said, defending the opposition protests in the House.

"Members were expelled for expressing their opinion. The Deputy  Chairman has not given priority to the rules," the former union minister said.

Mr Pawar also accused the central government of pursuing an agenda against political opponents by serving them tax notices.

He said he had also received notice after Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aaditya Thackeray (Shiv Sena) and Supriya Sule (his daughter and NCP MP).

"They love some people," said Mr Pawar, aiming at the BJP-led central government.

The farm bills, cleared in both houses, will soon go to President Ram Nath Kovind for his assent before they become law.

The government says the bills will make it easier for farmers to sell their produce directly to big buyers, will reform an outdated system and remove middlemen from the equation, allowing farmers to sell to institutional buyers and large retailers. The opposition argues that farmers will lose their bargaining power if retailers have tighter control over them. The parties also believe the proposed laws will destroy wholesale markets which ensure fair and timely payments to farmers and hit state economy.

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