The issue took centrestage as soon as the House met. Sharad Yadav of JD(U), Mulayam Singh Yadav of SP and Basudeb Acharia of the CPI(M) demanded that they discuss the crisis which they said has gripped a large part of the country due to a delayed and deficient monsoon.
With parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal suggesting that members take up the issue during the discussion on the demand for grants for the agriculture ministry on Thursday, Opposition members started shouting slogans of the government being anti-farmer forcing the Speaker to adjourn the Lok Sabha for about 20 minutes.
Subsequently, the Lok Sabha discussed the issue during Zero Hour where members cutting across party lines voiced their concern, with all of them suggesting that the government declare a famine and hold a meeting of all chief ministers and parties to evolve an action plan.
It is an unprecedented situation, said Sharad Yadav. Rivers are receding, ponds and wells are drying up and sowing has gone waste, he said. He asked the government to evolve a national consensus by taking everybodychief ministers, leaders of parties and agricultural experts on board.
Gopinath Munde of the BJP demanded a package for the rural poor and effective steps to check migration from the countryside. Mulayam Singh Yadav said famine should be declared, Acharia sought a contingency plan to cope with the emerging crisis.
It is a national issue, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav said while cautioning members about mass unrest. He said people would not spare even MPs if the situation was not controlled fast. He demanded a ban on export of foodgrains, meat and fish.
Gurudas Dasgupta of the CPI said hoarders had hiked the prices of vegetables and other essential commodities. He favoured a meeting of chief ministers and faulted the government for keeping Parliament in the dark. Nageshwar Rao of the Telugu Desam said it was surprising that the government had not announced any package for the farmers so far.