Arun Jaitley’s jibe draws reluctant opposition into agriculture debate
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
A reluctant opposition was forced into a debate on the agrarian situation by a sharp intervention from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. After an hour had passed post lunch with the Opposition’s tactics ranging from demands for the prime minister’s presence to questioning the time allotment for the debate, Jaitley pointed out inconsistencies in the opposition’s pre- and post-lunch positions.
“The issue of farmer suicides is very grave, not just about political eloquence. Before lunch we heard the opposition talk about why everything should be suspended for immediate discussion… Post lunch those same members talk about why it should not be discussed. If this is our seriousness, the whole country will laugh at us.”
The opposition relented, with Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad starting the discussion.
In the morning, when MoS (Rural Development) Sudarshan Bhagat had risen to lay a statement explaining why the land ordinance was repromulgated, Trinamool Congress MP Nadimul Haq tore a copy of the list of business and threw it into the well, saying he would do the same with the bill if brought to the House. The rest of the opposition joined in demanding a discussion and a statement by the PM. Trinamool MPs walked out; the House was adjourned twice.
In the afternoon, Opposition leaders oscillated from demanding the prime minister’s presence to the stand that a suspension notice given earlier in the morning had been submitted without mutual consultation.
When the debate finally took place, Azad said farmer suicides are as much about crop damage as about apprehensions about the land law. He also attacked Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for his statement that during Wednesday’s rally he had asked Delhi police for 45 minutes to bring farmer Gajendra Singh down before the latter hanged himself.
“I want to ask him if for 45 minutes you see a man trying to kill himself, will you and your people keep speaking? Why not stop and save him? Policemen watching the spectacle are as guilty as AAP people and the CM. It is for the CM to decide whether he is guilty; he can decide his own punishment. The cops who watched on should be punished,” Azad said.
Azad turned on the government: “If you want to forcibly take away lands with the land legislation, what option do you leave for these people but to commit suicide? If the land bill is not passed in the Rajya Sabha, you are hell-bent on calling for a joint session.”
Former agriculture minister Sharad Pawar described how “scared” farmers are about the new law. He read out parts of a letter from minister Nitin Gadkari on the issue. “Similar letters would have gone to Sonia Gandhi and other opposition leaders. It says, ‘Shouldn’t farmers have water for their land, shouldn’t villages prosper, shouldn’t the security of the country be taken care of?’ This is not the language of reconciliation and compromise, this is the language of arrogance.”
Source:: Indian Express