Sloganeering Congress MPs blocked cricketer-MP Sachin Tendulkar’s maiden attempt to start a discussion in Rajya Sabha Thursday, on the right to play. Another day was washed out as the Congress, energised by the acquittal of all accused in the 2G scam, persisted with demands for a statement by the Prime Minister, their demands interspersed with cries of “kyun ji” (what now).
Tendulkar, who has been panned for his absence from Parliament since his nomination in 2012, had submitted a notice for a short-duration discussion on the right to play and the future of sports in India. His term ends in April 2018. The discussion was listed for the afternoon and Tendulkar walked in minutes in advance, shaking hands with MPs and also signing a photo for Jaya Bachchan.
No sooner had the proceedings begun than SP MP Naresh Aggarwal made a “point of order”, asking whether CAG as a constitutional body can leak its report to the media without it first being tabled in Lok Sabha and whether that report could be the basis of prosecution. He did not mention 2G but Congress MPs had been crying out various words ending in G with Renuka Chaudhary leading with “Kyun ji”. Chairman Venkaiah Naidu told Aggarwal he had heard him but it was not possible to give a ruling without advance notice of what issue was to be raised.
Congress members started chants of “Pradhan Mantri maafi mango”, standing in the aisles. A miffed Naidu said: “This is totally uncalled for, don’t denigrate Rajya Sabha,” and kept pleading that Tendulkar, a Bharat Ratna, be allowed to make his maiden speech.
A smiling Tendulkar kept waiting, papers in hand. Naidu kept urging MPs to “keep respect” and Bachchan was seen waving at the Opposition benches urging them to quieten. “Every youngster is inspired by his game and you do not want to hear him. This is not the procedure,” Naidu said. He finally adjourned the House for the day saying: “I do not want the nation to see how you are obstructing him.”
In the morning, sloganeering had forced Naidu to adjourn the proceedings until 2 pm, threatening to invoke rules against the MPs.
Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad sought an explanation from the PM for the “false propaganda” on the 2G scam. He said the Congress has been seeking an explanation from the PM over his “false” allegations against former PM Manmohan Singh during the Gujarat polls. After the 2G case acquittals, Azad said, “We want to ask where did all the allegations go.” The BJP had run a “propaganda” on the 2G scam that helped it “move from that side [Opposition] to this side and us from that side to this side”, he said.
Naidu said he was not allowing Azad’s submission as he had not given notice. Congress MPs rushed into the well. When some members moved in front of the ruling benches, Naidu rebuked them. Persuaded by Azad, the protesters later returned to their seats but kept raising slogans, drowning the voices of members called to speak.
Naidu said: “Please follow some decorum. I condemn your behaviour. I will have to think about invoking rules.”
When deputy leader of the Congress Anand Sharma tried to raise a point, Naidu snapped at him saying it was not good for a deputy leader of a party to defy the chair.