India

Farm laws | Thaw likely in Lok Sabha next week as cracks appear in Opposition unity


Trinamool stays put while other parties protest farm laws.

The Lok Sabha is expected to function from next week as floor leaders of Opposition parties will meet on Monday afternoon to decide their future course of action.

As the Lower House witnessed disruptions for the fourth day in a row on Friday, Speaker Om Birla convened a meeting of the floor leaders to ascertain their views on running the Lok Sabha next week.

Leaders of the Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Trinamool Congress and Biju Janata Dal were among those who attended the Speaker’s meet.

Though Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi was not part of the Speaker’s meeting, he expressed confidence that the Lok Sabha will run smoothly from Monday.

The government’s confidence is based on the calculation that members from other parties are keen to speak on the Motion thanking the President’s Address to a joint sitting of Parliament and there may be cracks in the Opposition unity.

The first signs could be seen on Friday as Trinamool members didn’t join their colleagues from the Congress, DMK and Left parties, who rushed to the Well holding placards and sloganeering against the Narendra Modi government over the new farm laws.

Trinamool MPs were at their seats even as other Opposition continued with their protests.

Amidst this, Mr. Birla continued with the Question Hour with Health Minister Harsh Vardhan responding to supplementary questions on COVID-19 vaccination.

The Speaker urged the protesting MPs to return to seats. But when they did not agree, Mr. Birla adjourned the House until 6 p.m. after thanking Indian scientists and researchers who developed a COVID-19 vaccine in record time.

When it reconvened, the House failed to be in order, prompting the Speaker to adjourn the House until Monday.

Sources told The Hindu that Monday could see a breakthrough as many Congress MPs, especially from Punjab, are keen to put across their views on the farm laws strongly.

Earlier in the week, during an informal meeting of Congress’ Lok Sabha members with former party chief Rahul Gandhi, the majority had insisted on having separate debates for the farms laws and not agreed to the government proposal, as they did in the Rajya Sabha. In the Upper House, the Opposition had agreed to debate the farm laws as part of the Motion of Thanks after the government allotted 15 hours, five hours more than originally planned.

On Thursday, at an informal meeting at Mr. Birla’s office, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister is learnt to have proposed a separate discussion on the farm laws only after the Opposition’s discussions on the Motion of Thanks and the Budget get over.

However, Opposition leaders didn’t agree to the proposal and the proceedings in the lower house got washed out this week.

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