Appeals made in vain, Chairman asks MPs protesting to introspect

The protests by the Opposition parties in the Well of the House, despite his repeated appeals for order, forced Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to call upon the protesting MPs to “introspect if this is what we make of our exalted parliamentary democracy”.

Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu

WITH OPPOSITION parties insisting on a discussion on the Pegasus snooping allegations and on the contentious farm laws, and the government not yielding to the demands, Rajya Sabha yet again witnessed multiple adjournments – and little business – on Tuesday.

The protests by the opposition parties in the Well of the House, despite his repeated appeals for order, forced Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to call upon the protesting MPs to “introspect if this is what we make of our exalted parliamentary democracy”.

Amid the din, the House passed the Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021, which was passed by Lok Sabha in March. It will replace Lighthouse Act, 1927, and provide a fresh framework for development, maintenance and management of aids to navigation in India.

As the House assembled in the morning, several opposition MPs came to the Well shouting slogans even as the Chairman asked others to resume business. With the protests getting louder, Naidu said it was the “sixth of the scheduled 19 sittings of the House for this Monsoon Session. We are still to get into business mode”.

“What is this called? Let the people decide and describe what this is called,” he said, referring to the protests. “Nothing is going on record, you should give notice. Talk to your leaders. Go to your place. Maintain order in the House. We can take up all the issues.”

“I am not going to oblige. You know that you cannot force me like this through undemocratic method,” Naidu said.

Just before he adjourned the House for about an hour, within 13 minutes after it started, Naidu said he was “concerned over media reports that some sections of the House are determined not to allow its functioning for the remainder of the session”.

“All of you should introspect if this is what we make of our exalted Parliamentary democracy. Parliament is meant for making laws, to discuss public issues. Nothing of it is being allowed.”

He said there are eight Bills for the House to consider. “Unfortunately, Parliament is being reduced to such a sorry state of affairs. Leaders of parties have voiced their concern to me over the ongoing state of affairs in this august House and being deprived of raising issues of public concern. You are depriving members of Zero Hour submissions, Special Mentions and also Questions.”

“You are harming the interest of the country, yourself and also the interest of Parliament. I appeal to all of you to please rethink about this attitude. See to it that the discussion takes place.”

As the House resumed at noon, the opposition members were back in the Well with slogans and placards. Deputy Chairman Harivansh told them they had even taken off their masks, and were violating the Covid protocols. As some members asked listed questions to Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, he said he was unable to hear amid the din.

Deputy Leader of the House Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi targeted the protesting members for not following Covid protocols. “Our officers who are sitting there, they can get infected,” he said, as the House was adjourned again.

In the afternoon, Harivansh, adamant on transacting business, called on members to discuss the Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, as the protesting opposition MPs once again entered the Well of the House. Only two MPs spoke on the Bill immediately after the lunch recess before the House was adjourned till 4 pm.

Once the House resumed, the Deputy Chairman called NCP’s Fauzia Khan and Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi to speak but their voices were drowned in the commotion. Then Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal spoke briefly amid the din, following which Harivansh proceeded to get the Bill passed.

The House was then adjourned for an hour. On resumption, the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection Bill 2021 was introduced following which the Upper House was adjourned for the day.

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