Three Congress MPs dissociate themselves from parliamentary panel report on amended Essential Commodities Act

New Delhi: Three Congress MPs on Saturday dissociated themselves from the report of a parliamentary standing committee recommending implementation of the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, and alleged that the report was adopted against norms and conventions.

The said Act is one of the three contentious agriculture-marketing laws which have triggered protests by farmers and which the Congress wants repealed.

The Congress and Trinamool Congress have accused the BJP of "flouting norms" and pushing the report in the absence of its regular Chairman, TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay who is currently busy in West Bengal Assembly elections.

Three Congress MPs in the panel — Saptagiri Sankar Ulaka, Rajmohan Unnithan and Vaithilingam Ve — have separately written to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, urging him to look into the matter and allow them to record their dissent in writing.

The 11th report of the Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution was adopted on 18 March at its meeting chaired by acting chairperson Ajay Misra Teni (BJP), and it was tabled in Parliament on Friday.

Congress member Saptagiri Ulaka wrote to Om Birla disassociating himself from the report.

In his letter to the Speaker, he has said, "I urge you to kindly look into the matter and give me the opportunity to record my dissent officially in the Report."

"It is highly irregular that such an important Report was circulated at a very short notice, and without recording any dissenting opinion, was tabled in Parliament," he said.

Ulaka alleged that he was not present when the report was adopted at the meeting called in a short notice of merely 15 hours.

"It is not only misleading the nation, but also against the norms and conventions of the functioning and the democratic spirit of the Parliamentary Standing Committee," he said in his letter to the Speaker.

He said the reports recommends on page 62 "to implement the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 in letter and spirit". "I completely dissociate myself with this recommendation and record my dissent to the Report...," Ulaka said.

Unnithan and Vaithilingam have also written similar letters to the Speaker.

They said the subject was selected by the Committee in 2019-20 for examination before the three farm ordinances and related farm laws were passed and the panel spent a cumulative time of 4 hours 45 minutes on it.

They alleged that the Committee did not seek oral evidence from a single farmers' group or any independent expert before finalising the report.

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also shared Ulaka's letter in a tweet, saying, "MPs of the Congress party DID NOT ask for implementation of the Essential Commodities Act. The Standing Committee Report is a misrepresentation!"

Ramesh, who is the chief whip of the party in the Rajya Sabha said, "It is unprecedented that the report is adopted in the absence of the Chairman". "In 17 years I have been an MP, this has never happened," he told news agency PTI.

Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien alleged that this is the con job done by the BJP's 'dirty tricks department'.

"This is the BJP cheap and dirty tricks department in action. Con job was done when Chairman of Parliament Committee was not at the meeting. AITC's position on Farm Laws and Essential Commodities Act well documented. Withdraw draconian laws," he said in a tweet, using the hashtag "FarmersProtest".



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