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18 parties to explore united stir against farm, labour laws

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New Delhi: After curtailment of a stormy monsoon session of Parliament, leaders of around 18 Opposition parties are likely to hold a virtual meeting soon to explore the possibility of a united protest across states against the Centre’s ‘anti-farmer’ and ‘anti-worker’ policies. This was decided at a meeting of parliamentary leaders of 18 parties on Wednesday.

One of the suggestions was for non-NDA chief ministers to jointly take up ‘Centre’s violation of the federal structure’ by pushing through ‘contentious farms legislations that fall in the states’ domain’. The planned meeting may also discuss the proposal of some leaders to move the Supreme Court against validity of the legislations by making it a case of ‘intrusion into state list’. As many Opposition parties are turf rivals, it would require a lot of determination and accommodation to sustain on the ground the unity seen in Parliament.

After boycotting Parliament proceedings, MPs of the 18 parties held a dharna and march outside Parliament complex on Wednesday. Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad met the President on behalf of the 18 parties and urged him not to give his assent to the farms bills and seek a fresh parliamentary debate and vote on them.

“Anti-farmer bills were passed in the Rajya Sabha after the government violated rules and procedures, rejecting demands of 18 Opposition parties to refer the bills to the standing committee or a select committee and by violating our voting right. The role played by the deputy chairman in it has been most unfortunate,” Azad said.

“The Left parties have already extended support to the joint all-India agitation of various farmers organisations on September 25 against anti-farmers legislations. We appeal to all other opposition parties too to back the agitation,” said CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury. “The manner in which the anti-farmer and anti-workers bills were pushed through has exposed the anti-democratic attitude of the Modi government and its determination to violate every rule and procedure of Parliament. On the issues of farmers and workers, there is a need for all opposition parties to come together on a joint platform,” said CPI’s Binoy Viswam.

“The 18 Opposition parties are united in taking up the issues of farmers”, said Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut. “The anti-farmer bills were not only pushed through by not allowing united Opposition demands for voting but even by violating federal principles,” said Jose K Mani of KCM. As the Congress has already announced its own agitation, some parties may be compelled to work out separate courses of agitation. “Yet, there is still scope and space for all of us to have an issue-based unity against the Modi government and BJP,” said a senior Opposition leader.

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