Centre refuses to send contentious bills to House panels

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The government did not agree to the Opposition demand to send the three agricultural related ordinances that they have been criticising for allegedly undermining the interests of farmers and the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, which is “against anti-federal principles”, to the parliamentary standing committees.

At an informal meeting chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with Opposition leaders from the Rajya Sabha, the government refused to make this commitment. According to sources, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi in a passing reference said that if the Opposition needed longer time to debate various subjects, then the monsoon session must be extended by another five days.

LAC Statement

On Thursday, Mr. Singh will make a statement on the situation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC). He made a statement on the issue in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. The government has agreed to grant just 20 minutes to the Opposition parties to seek clarifications.

Sources said the government has so far not agreed for a debate on the border stand-off with China in either House of Parliament.

On Tuesday, Congress members staged a walkout when Speaker Om Birla refused to give them an opportunity to seek clarifications.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, amends the existing Act to remove all agricultural commodities from the list of essential commodities. The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, is for promoting barrier-free inter-State and intra-State trade and commerce outside the physical premises of markets notified under State Agricultural Produce Marketing legislations. And the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 provides an enabling legal framework for contract farming.

The Opposition parties have repeatedly stated that these legislations will work in favour of big corporate houses and snatch the protections that are in place for farmers today.

The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which will bring cooperative banks under the RBI supervision, is being criticised by the parties it because it will take away the State governments’ powers and bring in more centralisation.

The Bill also gives the Centre the power to change the membership structure of a cooperative. For instance, a farmer-promoted district cooperative bank could be transferred to the hands of non-farmers.

At the informal meeting, other than Mr. Singh and Mr. Joshi, the government was represented by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Leader of the Rajya Sabha Thawarchand Gehlot.

From the Opposition, the Congress’s Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Jairam Ramesh; the TMC’s Derek O’ Brien; the DMK’s Tiruchi Siva; the TRS’s K. Keshava Rao; the RJD’s Manoj K Jha and the CPI(M)’s Elamaram Kareem were present.

The government has agreed for a debate on economy, the Environment Impact Assessment 2020 notification and the National Education Policy. It has also agreed for a debate on GST. Interestingly, the TRS, which supports the government on most issues, has pressed for a debate on GST vociferously.

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