Proceedings in Rajya Sabha were disrupted on Wednesday as the opposition pressed for a debate on the Gaza situation but the government steadfastly refused saying it could impact upon India’s diplomatic ties with Israel and Palestine.
The government and opposition locked horns over the issue of discussion and cited rules and precedents in the House, while arguing for and against on whether the business once listed can be altered.
The opposition pointed out that the issue had been listed as part of business for the day and should be taken up first.
Members kept citing rules to argue in favour and against the debate for almost two hours during which the House was adjourned a number of times. It was finally adjourned for the day at 3 PM.
Earlier resisting a debate, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she had come to know late about the listing of the issue in the day’s business and had written to Chairman Hamid Ansari requesting that it should be dropped.
She said, “We have diplomatic ties with both nations. Any discourteous reference to any friendly country can impact our relations with them.”
Swaraj, along with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu, said the House should take up the debate on Railway Budget till the Chairman’s ruling on her letter came.
Deputy Chairman P J Kurien also said that the House should take up other business till the Chairman’s ruling comes.
The entire opposition refused to budge and insisted that they will not let any other item to be taken up till the issue is resolved.
“We cannot take up the Railway Budget unless the first item is disposed of,” said Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was to speak on the Rail Budget.
“In the larger interest of the country, I urge the House to take up the Railway Budget,” Naidu said amid uproar by opposition.
Swaraj said “this discussion cannot be allowed” and cited rules in this regard asking the Chair to take up the Rail Budget instead. This request evoked a resounding ‘no’ from the opposition benches, who joined hands to corner the government.
Coming to her aid, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said government business gets priority and till Chairman’s decision on the External Affairs Minister’s letter is taken, government business has to be taken up first.
“Railway Budget needs to be taken up first and completed. It is important,” he said.
Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said this is “not permissible” and cited rules in support of his contention, while Swaraj told him that he should not read the rules in piece meal and rather read them together. She also said the Railway Budget was part of the business listed for the day.
Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) said he was not aware of the letter written by Swaraj and what its contents were, but said, “there should be continued…