Over 10 Opposition parties met for a strategy session for the Lok Sabha on Thursday, a day ahead of the proposed 15-hour debate on the farmers’ issue in the Rajya Sabha. Earlier this week, the government had offered a 15-hour discussion. But the opposition objected after Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu said the discussion will take place after the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address.
Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress – which is facing elections two months later – was the only key opposition party to miss the meet because it can’t be seen publicly with the left and the Congress ahead of state elections.
Most parties including the Shiv Sena, National Conference, the Left parties and the DMK were unanimous that given the current situation in the Delhi borders and the continuing agitation, a separate discussion must take place on the farmers’ agitation issues and concerns.
Congress’s Rahul Gandhi was present throughout the meeting.
The opposition has refused to accept the demand for a joint, extended discussion on the Motion of Thanks, as it would not be correct especially since this is a current and important issue.
Opposition parties were also a little defensive about taking a separate and different stand from their counterparts in the Rajya Sabha, where an unanimous decision was taken about having a discussion on Friday. There will be no Question hour for two days and private members’ bills will not be taken on Friday to accommodate the discussion.
The Lok Sabha leaders, however, explained that there are numerous instances when different stands are taken — like when the Rajya Sabha members boycotted parliament and the Lok Sabha continued with opposition present etc.
The two-month farmers’ protests on the borders of Delhi was expected to be one of the key issues of contention in the budget session. The government has accused the Congress of inciting the protest by farmers, who started the “Delhi Chalo” agitation on November 26 in protest against the three central laws that they believe will shrink their income by taking away guaranteed minimum prices for their crops and by leaving them open to exploitation by big corporates.