New Delhi: The joint Opposition Sunday demanded the formal repeal of the three contentious farm laws and a legislation to guarantee MSP, as it raised a host of issues, including price rise and the coronavirus management, at an all-party meeting convened by the government ahead of the winter session of Parliament.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said around 15 issues were raised during the meeting which was chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
He said the Opposition expected Prime Minister Narendra Modi to head the meeting and address the issues, but he skipped it.
The winter session of Parliament starts Monday and will continue till December 23.
Leaders of 30 political parties attended the meeting where they raised issues including farmers’ problems, alleged Chinese incursion, Covid preparation and past mismanagement”, inflation, high fuel prices, unemployment, state of the economy and the extension of the BSF’s jurisdiction in border states.
The issues of Pegasus spyware and women reservation were also raised, with some parties demanding a discussion on them.
“The opposition leaders raised a number of issues during the meeting and urged the government to actively do something in this regard. We expected that the prime minister would attend the meeting and answer our issues. But, the PM did not come to the meeting,” Kharge told PTI after the meeting.
“We all raised the issue of farmers. The demand of farmers to give MSP legal sanctity as per Swaminathan formula and withdrawing the electricity bill should be taken up on priority basis,” he said.
The senior Congress leader said it seems the government is repealing the farm laws only after the BJP lost bypolls as the prime minister himself said he is apologising to the people of the country as he failed to convince some of the farmers who were protesting against the laws.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said there is no tradition of the prime minister attending the all-party meeting.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh heard the opposition members and said the issues raised by them would be taken up in the business advisory committees of both houses and time would be accorded to them after discussion.
Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the government has brought 26 bills and the opposition seeks to raise around 15-20 issues and there is little time for everything.
“We will be striving hard to accommodate the issues during the session,” he said.
He said that on behalf of the opposition, “we are having a plethora of agendas to be raised, but did not know how much scope and opportunity will be afforded to the opposition parties”.
The session will work for 19 days and there will be a serious time constraint in dealing with all these issues, he said.
Sources said NC leader Farooq Abdullah raised the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and grant of early statehood there.
The TMC also raised the issue of extension of BSF jurisdiction in border states usurping the rights of states .
TMC leader Derek O’Brien and Sudip Bandyopadhyay raised around 10 issues at the meeting which included price rise of essential commodities, unemployment, federal structure being “weakened”, the BSF jurisdiction, the Pegasus snooping row and bringing a law on MSP.
They also demanded that the women reservation bill be brought and a discussion on the Covid situation.
They said the government should not “bulldoze” bills without scrutiny in future.
The BSP raised the issue of Dalit atrocities and reservation in promotions, besides other issues including farmers agitation and the farm laws.
The SP also raised the farmers’ issues and sought action on the union minister whose son has been arrested in the Lakhimpur violent incidents.
The NCP and some other issues also raised the issues of farmers.