The absence of Farooq Abdullah, the Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar, from the House was disconcerting for some Opposition MPs. DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran was seen going through rulebooks and consulting RSP’s N K Premachandran before raising a point of order. As Maran pointed out that the Speaker should have been informed about the MP being detained or arrested, both Home Minister Amit Shah and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad went to the officer’s box to consult them over the matter. While the government took a while in giving its response to Maran’s point, some Congress MPs also got into action. Ernakulam MP Hibi Eden took a sheet of paper, wrote on it “Where is Farooq Abdullah? The Nation Wants to Know”, and held it up. Congress member Shashi Tharoor and NCP’s Supriya Sule also expressed their concern. When Sule said the debate could not be completed without Abdullah, Shah said: “He (Abdullah) is neither under detention nor under arrest. He is at his home of his own free will.” As Sule said that he is not well, Shah quipped, “Doctors can treat him, I can’t.”
House At Home
Venkaiah Naidu loves to host people at his home. Finding the right opportunity on the penultimate day of the Budget Session, he announced in the House that he would like to invite all members for a lunch on Wednesday, the last day of the session. The invitation was met with cheerful thumps by those present, and Naidu, in his quintessential style, added, “It will be better if you clap after eating.” The discussion on a Bill had just started before the announcement, and Naidu, who does not miss an opportunity for wordplay, added, “There is no bill for lunch. It is free.”
Call For Committees
Before adjourning Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu gave a final call to all political parties to send names of their MPs from both Houses to constitute eight department-related standing committees that are under control of the Upper House. Parties that fail to send in names will not have their MPs on these committees, Naidu said. His direction assumes significance in the context of the Opposition’s demand for referring Bills to standing committees for scrutiny. The government, it is learnt, may propose to send some Bills to the select committees of Rajya Sabha.
A Tall Leader
The debate on J&K Reorganisation Bill presented an opportunity for the BJD to refresh the country’s memory about the role party’s founder Biju Patnaik played in the history of Kashmir. Party MP Pinaki Misra said that on October 27, 1947, when Pakistani invaders were marching towards Srinagar and the then Maharaja had left Srinagar, a flight under the command of Lt Gen Deewan Ranjit Roy with 17 soldiers of the First Sikh regiment on board went there and saved Srinagar and Kashmir. “The nation must know that the man who flew the plane was none other than Biju Patnaik… Not one sortie, Biju Patnaik that day flew several sorties and took several batches of soldiers into Srinagar airport,” Misra said. The MPs who were not aware of this part of the history appeared surprised.