Opposition MPs protest outside Parliament.
First to come up to the well of the House were Trinamool Congress MPs Arpita Ghosh and Dola Sen, Congress MPs Kumari Shelja and Jairam Ramesh, and AAP lawmaker Sanjay Singh. Then TMC leader Derek O’Brien too came up to the well with the rule book to show that it was a violation of the House rules not to allow division of votes or voting by pressing the button. O’Brien’s actions are now mired in controversy, with some insisting that he tore the pages of the rule book. A close viewing of the Rajya Sabha footage adds to the confusion. It shows DMK MP Tiruchi Siva throwing a book even as O’brien was close to the chair, showing the deputy chairman the particular rule on button voting.
Later, in back-to-back high-profile press conferences, both the BJP and Congress blamed each other for tarnishing Parliament’s image because of what transpired in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday as the two contentious farm bills — Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 — were passed amid massive ruckus through voice vote. A number of protests were also staged during the day by farmers in several places, especially Punjab and Haryana, against the bills.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh flanked by five other Union Cabinet ministers addressed a press conference on Sunday evening and condemned the alleged misbehaviour with Deputy Chairperson Harivansh Narayan Singh by opposition members. He said “democracy was shamed” by the conduct of Opposition MPs in the Upper House of Parliament, while adding that he too is a farmer and nobody should believe the government would do anything to hurt the farmers.
Minutes later, the Congress said the members were upset with the way the bills were being passed, while noting that everyone went in the well of the House, including BJP leaders, and called it a conspiracy by the ruling party.
Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the same Parliament to which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had bowed his head after coming to power had been shamed by the conduct of his ministers.
A video footage shows some torn pages being thrown at the same time. O’brien, however, denies tearing up the rule book. “If even one proof is given of me having torn the rule book, I shall resign as MP tomorrow,” he told News18.