Two of the three farm Bills piloted by the government were passed in the Upper House of Parliament yesterday, amid fierce protest from the Opposition. The proposed legislation has received widespread criticism from Opposition parties and farmers, chiefly in Punjab and Haryana. The Opposition parties had asked the Bill to be sent to a select committee. Despite the uproar in Parliament, with the telecast being cut off, the Bills were passed by a voice vote instead of a division — which is actual voting by Members of Parliament. A no confidence motion was moved against the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivash Singh which was rejected on Monday. Eight Rajya Sabha MPs, including Trinamool Congress' Derek O’Brien and Aam Aadmi Party's Sanjay Singh, were suspended for staging a protest in the upper house.
A look at how the editorials of various mainstream newspapers covered the proceedings today.
Hindustan Times’s started with a disclaimer about their loyalty to the government’s cause. “This newspaper has supported the government’s efforts to bring about a new legislative and policy architecture for agriculture as a method to empower farmers.” The edit then criticises the government for not following due process, which “reflected poorly” on India’s parliamentary democracy. It further stated the Opposition’s demand to send the Bill to the select committee should have been accepted, “but if the government was not willing to embark on that process, there should have been a discussion in the House where members got a chance to offer their perspectives and the government listened to feedback and made modifications accordingly. And along with this, there should have been a clear voting process — a division as it is called in parliamentary parlance — to get an accurate sense of the mood of the House.”
In conclusion, the newspaper chided both the government and Opposition parties: “The government’s victory in getting the bills passed will be tainted by the way it was done, and the Opposition’s response will dilute its legitimate right to protest.”
The Indian Express’s titled “Bully and Pulpit” illustrated how the government’s reluctance to listen to the Opposition in undermining India’s parliamentary structure. It said the government cannot blame the Opposition alone for what transpired in Parliament on Sunday. “While the opposition parties may be seizing the visible unrest in sections of the farmers to score a political point, the fact is that the government has wielded a bludgeon when it could have used the subtle powers of Parliament.” It elaborated on how the Modi government has not yet learned to play by the rules of Parliament and in a constitutional democracy, the government must adhere to some checks and balances. “If the government uses the abbreviated time only to push through legislation, giving short shrift to the need to listen to the suggestions of the people’s representatives or answer the Opposition’s questions, it would be reducing the nation’s highest deliberative forum to a mere clearing house,” the editorial said.
The Times of India, The Hindu, The Tribune and The Telegraph did not carry an editorial on the subject.
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