In a bid to build pressure on the government, the Opposition, which has been protesting in Lok Sabha against the farm legislation, have given notice for 204 amendments to President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to the joint session. The subjects on which they have sought amendments include the farmers’ agitation, leaked WhatsApp chats of Arnab Goswami and the pandemic.
Twenty nine MPs from 11 parties, including the Congress, TMC, Left parties and DMK have given notices seeking amendments. A number of Opposition members have expressed regret for the President not mentioning any solution to the ongoing farmers’ protests against the three farm Bills passed by Parliament in the monsoon session.
MPs Sougata Ray from the TMC, N K Premachandran (RSP), Faizal P P Mohammad (NCP), K P Subbarayan and M Selvaraj (CPI), P R Natarajan (CPM) and Congress MPs Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Kodikkunnil Suresh, Benny Behnan, Hibi Eden, Dean Kuriackose, Ravneet Singh and T N Prathapan have sought a reference to the farmers’ agitation. Eden and Suresh want the speech to have a reference to the “widespread protests”and “alleged police atrocity on the farmers in Delhi and the sad loss of life of a protesting farmer”.
The amendments sought by the Opposition to the President’s address are seldom carried out as the treasury benches enjoy a majority in the House. The BJP enjoys a comfortable majority in this Lok Sabha. But the Opposition parties’ move assumes significance against the backdrop of their MPs disrupting the procedures during the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address, which is rare.
With the agitating farmers’ unions keeping the movement detached from parties, moving amendments referring to the protests is “to send a political message and to build pressure on the government”, said one leader.
Opposition parties have disrupted proceedings in Lok Sabha for four days in a row. In Rajya Sabha, they agreed for the debate on the Motion of Thanks. In the Lower House, they insisted on a separate debate on farmers’ issues. Sources in the government said it would not agree for a separate debate as it has already agreed to extend the duration of the debate on the Motion of Thanks. Government sources on Sunday expressed optimism that the House will function on Monday. A number of MPs have raised that the President’s address did not mention “the reported sufferings endured by the migrant labourers who were stranded and forced to travel miles by foot due to lockdown”.
Deepak Baij, Congress MP from Bastar in Chhattisgarh, has proposed adding a mention about the “failure to deal with the unfortunate incident at Red Fort on the occasion of the Republic Day” and Premachandran has sought that the government assure a special package for farmers and MSP for agricultural produce.
Baij has also demanded that a joint parliamentary committee look into the leak of “information regarding air strikes”. The Congress had sought such a probe into chats between Arnab Goswami and former BARC CEO Partho Dasgupta, referring to the Balakot strikes. Congress’s Behnan has pointed out the address did not mention the TRP fraud issue.
Several MPs have sought measures to deal with the post- Covid situation. Congress’s Shashi Tharoor has raised the issue of transparency surrounding the PM-CARES fund.
Both Sougata Ray and BSP’s Ritesh Pandey have taken up the issue of harassment faced by mediapersons for tweets or comments. Several Congress MPs have raised the rising prices of petroleum products.