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Sonia condoles death of cartoonist Tailang

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Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday condoled the death of noted cartoonist Sudhir Tailang.

“Saddened at the untimely death of Tailang. His depiction of contemporary events through cartoons and fearless commitment to the right to artistic expression will be forever remembered,” Gandhi said in her condolence message.

Tailang, who was suffering from brain tumour, passed away on Saturday.

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Suspended RS MPs end dramatic sit-in after oppn decides to boycott House

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8 suspended mps dharna

New Delhi, Sep 22 : With the opposition deciding to boycott the Rajya Sabha, its eight suspended MPs on Tuesday ended their overnight sit-in inside the Parliament House complex and said they would take their fight against the farm bills to the street.

The suspended Rajya Sabha parliamentarians, who spent the night on the lawns near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in what several old-timers said was the first such overnight protest in the complex, got a surprise visitor in the morning — Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh who came with tea and snacks.

Till late night, the protesting MPs raised slogans and sang songs while a host of Opposition leaders such as National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah, Samajwadi Party’s Jaya Bachchan and Congress’ Ahmed Patel, Digvijaya Singh and Shashi Tharoor visited them to express their support.

But their morning visitor did not receive the same enthusiastic response, said some of the protesting MPs.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Harivansh’s gesture was proof of his greatness, adding that his inspiring’ and statesmanlike’ conduct will make every democracy lover proud.

“To personally serve tea to those who attacked and insulted him a few days ago as well as those sitting on Dharna shows that Shri Harivansh Ji has been blessed with a humble mind and a big heart. It shows his greatness. I join the people of India in congratulating Harivansh Ji,” he tweeted.

The Rajya Sabha deputy chairman, the protesters said, came early with a posse of news cameras and was told by a senior MP to visit without the cameras and sit with them.

“Another senior MP also told him that while bringing tea was a nice gesture, he was still in the wrong in what he did. He was told he was the one who broke the rules,” a protesting MP told PTI.

Several leaders said they did not accept the tea and snacks offered by the deputy chairman. “I did not have the tea brought by him,” said AAP leader Sanjay Singh.

“Farmers have been cheated. We kept asking for proper voting and we were ignored completely. This is not the time to make friends but to fight for the rights of farmers, and we sat here the whole night to protest against the anti-farmer Bills,” he added.

A motion for the suspension of the eight leaders — Rajeev Satav, Syed Naseer Hussain and Ripun Bora (Congress), Dola Sen and Derek O’Brien (TMC), KK Ragesh and Elamaram Kareem (CPM) and Sanjay Singh (AAP) — was moved by the government on Monday and approved by a voice vote in the House.

They were suspended for the remaining part of the current session over their “misbehaviour” with the deputy chairman during the passage of the farm bills on Sunday.

With the opposition parties boycotting the rest of the session, there was no point in continuing with the dharna, which started on Monday afternoon and ended 24 hours later on Tuesday, said Congress MP Hussain.

“All the opposition parties have boycotted the rest of the session (in Rajya Sabha), nobody is attending the session. They appealed to us to withdraw the dharma and since nobody is attending the session till the suspension is revoked, there is no point in continuing with the dharna,” he told PTI.

His party colleague Rajeev Satav added that they will now hit the streets against the farm bills.

Trinamool Congress’ Sen agreed.

“After many Opposition parties have boycotted the remainder of the Monsoon session of the Rajya Sabha, the dharna at Gandhi statue has ended. Now we will take our fight for the rights of the farmers to every town and village in the country,” she told PTI.

“I demand the government withdraws the black laws passed unconstitutionally without voting. Get the voting done and then see the result. You know you don’t have the required votes that is why you are scared of getting the voting done,” said Singh of the Aam Aadmi Party.

CPM MP Kareem said the fight would continue.

“Opposition decided to boycott the session. Why should we attend if they don’t want us to speak/vote? Govt still not ready for discussion & correct their undemocratic approach towards Parliament. We’ll continue our fight for farmers & resist moves to derail Parliamentary Procedure,” he said on Twitter.

Earlier, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said the MPs who spent the night in front of Parliament don’t need tea but justice.

“The BJP government evicted and attacked them because they stood up for farmers. Justice is their right & they will have it. Constitution expects those in power to offer justice, not tea,” he tweeted.

Expressing his deep anguish and pain at the opposition members’ “humiliating” conduct towards him, Harivansh has announced a 24-hour fast, saying he hoped it will inspire a feeling of “self-purification” in them.

Harivansh has been in the thick of things since the suspension drama unfolded.

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu had rejected a notice for a no-confidence motion against Harivansh as it was not in proper format and did not give a 14-day notice period.

Several opposition parties, including AAP, TMC and the Left parties, led by the Congress walked out from the Rajya Sabha demanding that the suspension of the eight members be revoked. But the government is insisting on an apology first.

Before the walkout, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said the opposition will boycott proceedings of the House till the suspension is revoked.

Various opposition parties, including the Congress and the TMC, also boycotted the Lok Sabha in solidarity with the eight Rajya Sabha members.

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government will consider revoking their suspension only after they apologise for their behaviour in the Upper House.

Later, the Rajya Sabha chairman made a fresh appeal to members of all opposition parties to rethink their decision of boycotting the House proceedings and participate in the discussions.

Naidu, while presiding over the Rajya Sabha, said he had directed the secretary general to get in touch with the Lok Sabha secretariat to ensure the protesters are taken care of properly.

He, however, said the secretary general had shown him instructions issued earlier that members cannot be in the Parliament House complex for any demonstration, dharna, strike, fast or even any religious ceremony.

The Monsoon Session is scheduled to end on October 1. However, the session is likely to be curtailed with several MPs testing positive for COVID-19.

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Stalin couldn’t find fault with farm bills even with a magnifying glass: TN CM

Stalin was talking without knowing about the bills that have been adopted in Parliament, Palaniswami told reporters at Madurai.

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Edappadi K Palaniswami

The AIADMK extended support to the three farm bills as they benefited the farmers, and DMK chief M K Stalin, though he could not pick holes even with a magnifying glass, has still announced a protest against it, Chief Minister K Palaniswami asserted on Tuesday.

Palaniswami, who visited Ramanathapuram to inaugurate new projects and distribute government welfare assistance to beneficiaries said his party’s aim is safeguarding the interests of the farmers.

“Since the three bills benefited the farmers, we supported it. We will support any initiative aimed at benefiting the farmers and at the same time oppose any scheme that would affect them and this is our stand and we have made this clear,” he told reporters at Ramanathapuram.

Several schemes aimed at the welfare of farmers including the water resources rejuvenation ‘Kudimaramathu’ and construction of a slew of check dams have been implemented only because he was a farmer, the Chief Minister said answering a question on DMK chief M K Stalin criticising him for calling himself a farmer and supporting the farm bills.

“I am a farmer. To this day I am doing farming and I take pride in calling myself a farmer. Stalin does not know anything about agriculture,” he said, adding since the DMK president could not find fault with the government, he was making unfounded allegations.

Stalin was talking “without knowing” about the bills that have been adopted in Parliament, Palaniswami told reporters at Madurai.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 was in sync with a 2019 Tamil Nadu law, he said.

Farmers are also protected from price fall besides other advantages. “If Stalin can explain what is wrong in these provisions it will be good. Farmers will not be affected, these benefit them and that is why we have supported.”

Tamil Nadu has already taken steps to help farmers sell their produce anywhere freely and only this framework has now been extended across the nation through the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, he said.

“This law is already there in Tamil Nadu. The Centre has brought this Bill since other states do not have it.”

Similarly, after explaining the features of the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, he said all the three passed bills have absolutely no adverse impact for farmers and on the contrary, the provisions are good for them and the people.

The farmers market (Uzhavar Sandhai) would continue to function in Tamil Nadu and opposition parties were spreading rumours that these would be affected, he said.

Farmers in states like Punjab were agitated due to spread of rumours that there would be no Minimum Support Price and government procurement but the Centre has categorically made it clear that MSP and procurement would continue, he said.

“We don’t understand why he (Stalin) opposes the farm bills. What is wrong in these laws. He searched with a magnifying glass and could not find any fault (with farm bills). Still, he has announced a protest against the bills,” Palaniswami said.

The “historic” Rs 14,000 crore worth Cauvery Gundaru river-linking project would be inaugurated before the end of January next year, he said.

Unlike the DMK regime, which entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with a private entity for coal bed methane extraction in the fertile Cauvery delta region affecting the farmers interests, it was the AIADMK government which declared it as a protected zone for agriculture, Palaniswami said.

“Can Stalin deny that he was responsible for the project,” he asked, adding this aspect cannot be hidden and farmers would not forget that the leader of the opposition was responsible for that project during the DMK led rule years ago.

To a question on his party’s Rajya Sabha MP, S R Balasubramoniyan’s criticism on some provisions of the farm bills, Palaniswami said: “we will seek an explanation from him. He has said that he has only put on record his opinion. Still, we will ask him to explain.”

Earlier, at a review meeting at the Ramanathapuram Collectorate, Palaniswami said all steps for implementing the Cauvery Gundaru project has been initiated and through the initiative one lakh acre would get irrigation facilities in Ramanathapuram district.

The scheme, part of proposals envisaged under the Peninsular Rivers Development component of the National Perspective Plan, aims at diverting surplus water from Mettur dam to water deficit regions.

On Sunday, the Rajya Sabha passed the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020.

The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 that seeks to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onion, and potatoes from the list of essential commodities and will do away with the imposition of stock holding limits, was adopted on Tuesday in the upper house.

These three bills have already been passed by the Lok Sabha.

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AIADMK to seek explanation from RS member for opposing farm Bills

When it was pointed out that Balasubramanian spoke against the farm Bills in the Rajya Sabha, Palaniswami said an explanation will be sought from him.

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Chennai: Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK on Tuesday said that it will seek an explanation from its Rajya Sabha member S.R. Balasubramanian for speaking against the three farm Bills in the upper house on Sunday.

Queried about the AIADMK government’s stand on the farm laws, party Joint Coordinator and Chief Minister K. Palaniswami said the Central government has brought in the three laws for the benefit of the farmers.

The government will support schemes that are beneficial for the farmers and oppose those schemes that are detrimental to their interest, he said.

When it was pointed out that Balasubramanian spoke against the farm Bills in the Rajya Sabha, Palaniswami said an explanation will be sought from him.

Balasubramanian spoke against the three Bills, a day after Palaniswami issued a detailed statement highlighting the features of the Bills.

A former Congressman, Balasubramanian joined the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) and then the AIADMK in 2016 and soon after, was sent to the Rajya Sabha.

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