New Delhi: There was a massive uproar in the Rajya Sabha over the suicide of a farmer in the national capital, with the house suspending all business to take up a debate on farmers’ distress and crisis.
However, at least two hours were lost before the debate could be taken up, as members first presented their views on the issue, and then were engaged in procedural issues related to the debate.
The issue was first raised in the house around noon, after obituary references and farewell to outgoing members.
The chair had at least five notices for suspension of question hour to take up the debate on farmers’ distress and suicides.
Chairman M. Hamid Ansari, who usually does not allow giving up the question hour, which is scheduled for 12 noon in the upper house, allowed members to speak so that a decision could be taken on scheduling a debate.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, raising the issue, blamed the central government of the NDA, and the AAP government in Delhi for the farmer’s suicide in the national capital.
“The situation has reached a level that Gajendra Singh committed suicide in Delhi… Central government and AAP government in Delhi, both are culprits,” he said.
There were two brief adjournments, and two more leaders – Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and Mayawati of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) – spoke on the issue before the house was adjourned for lunch.
Post lunch, while Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien said the debate shall be taken up, opposition members sought the debate be put off for some other time and members should just speak on the issue for now.
Leader of House Arun Jaitley then questioned the intent of the opposition for taking up the debate at all, while opposition benches demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be present for the debate.
Azad suggested the debate should be taken up on Monday. However, Kurien pointed out that the business of house or the day was already suspended.
After another hour of discussions on the issue, the debate finally got underway, with Azad charging the NDA government with bulldozing its way to get the land acquisition bill passed.
“The situation of farmers had never been so bad that someone had to come to Delhi and commit suicide during a farmers’ meeting,” said Azad.
Countering the allegations, Vinay Katiyar of the BJP accused the opposition of making false propaganda that the government is going to snatch land from farmers under the proposed amendments in the land acquisition act.
“Land acquisition is a necessity for undertaking irrigation projects, construction of roads, airports and power plants. Government is only trying to improve upon the 2013 legislation brought out by UPA government,” said Katiyar.
The ruckus over the bill in the house earlier in the day saw opposition parties shouting slogans against the land bill. Some members also trooped near the chairman’s podium, shouting anti-government slogans.