In a move that could reflect the government’s intent to repeal the contentious farm laws on the first week of Winter Session and to persuade the Opposition to begin the session without any major disruption, BJP Thursday issued a three-line whip for its members in the Rajya Sabha to remain present in the house to support the government. The session is expected to be stormy.
“All BJP MPs in the Rajya Sabha are hereby informed that some very important business will be up for discussion and passing in the Rajya Sabha on Monday the 29 November 2021. All members of BJP in Rajya Sabha are, therefore, requested to be positively present in the House throughout the day on Monday, the 29 November and support the Government’s stand,” the whip issued by party chief in the upper house, Shiv Pratap Shukla, said.
Meanwhile, BJP MPs in the Lok Sabha have not received any whip so far. However, sources in the government said it could be issued for the lower house members too by Sunday. The Winter Session begins on November 29 and is scheduled to conclude on December 23.
Asked if the whip indicates the government’s move to bring in the bill to repeal the three farm laws in the first week itself, a minister in the Union government said, “This indicates the government’s eagerness to keep the Prime Minister’s promise to the farmers.” The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 is expected to be tabled in the first week itself to repeal the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance, Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
Prime Minister Modi, in an address to the nation last week, has announced that the government would withdraw the three bills against which farmers of Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh have been protesting against. Both Punjab and Uttar Pradesh are going to polls early next year. Wednesday, the union Cabinet approved the repeal of the laws.
Such a move could force the Opposition — which appears to be keen on discussing the controversial bills on the floor of the house — to keep aside its “disruptions” and join the debates. “And it could strengthen the possibility of an effective session. The government is prepared with its counter strategy against the Opposition’s criticism,” said a BJP leader.
The government has listed 26 new bills, including one to create a facilitative framework to produce the official digital currency and the legislation to repeal the contentious farm bills, for the Winter Session. The four-week-long session is expected to witness the introduction of the controversial Electricity (Amendment) Bill to de-license power distribution and increase competition and the bills meant to extend the tenure of the directors of the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate from two to five years. Both the proposed legislations have already drawn criticism from Opposition parties.
The Monsoon session of Parliament witnessed uproarious scenes and was almost a wash out with no debate taking place on the floor of the house after the Opposition insisted on discussing the farm bills and the Pegasus spyware scandal but the government did not agree.
While the presiding officers of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha convened meetings with floor leaders of all parties, the government had called an all-party meeting to discuss the session in order to ensure the smooth functioning of the houses. The all-party meeting will be convened by the government Sunday and the Prime Minister is also expected to attend.