As the Opposition and government traded charges in a fiercely contested debate over the Rafale deal, Parliament Wednesday was adjourned multiple times after protests, waving of placards and Congress members even hurling paper planes during Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s counter to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s allegations.
The House was finally adjourned for the day at 5 pm with the suspension of 26 AIADMK MPs, who protested in the well shouting slogans and raising placards in protest against a Cauvery water project in Karnataka.
As Jaitley attacked “the family” and raised issues of the National Herald case and the Bofors and AgustaWestland cases, Congress members gathered in the well and shouted slogans of “Chowkidar Chor hai”. In reply, the treasury benches shouted: “Maa, beta chor hain”.
At least four of Congress members, Sushmita Dev, Rajeev Satav, Ranjeet Ranjan and Gurjeet Singh Aujla, were seen flinging paper planes in the air as Jaitley defended the government. Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi was seen talking to Sushmita Dev, who continued to throw the paper planes.
Amid the din, AIADMK MPs also threw torn pieces of papers in the air during the speeches from both the Treasury and Opposition benches.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan even singled out Satav and Dev. “Hawai jahaj bachpan mein udae nahi kya? Bachche ho kya? (Haven’t you floated paper planes in your childhood? Are you still children?),” she said adding that the Congress had demanded a discussion and was now disrupting the House.
When both MPs continued unperturbed, Jaitley said, “I think these paper planes are being floated in the memory of Eurofighter (Rafale’s competitor in the deal).”
The Speaker then adjourned the House briefly. But, Congress MP Deepender Hooda was seen bringing placards on the Rafale deal for party members in the well of the House. Congress members raised the placards in the well of the House while Jaitley spoke on the issue, forcing another adjournment.
After the second adjournment, Congress MPs returned to their seats leaving only AIADMK members in the well of the House.
Earlier, during Rahul’s speech, there were massive disruptions when he tried to play an audio tape of a purported statement by a Goa minister where he allegedly claimed that Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had said during a Cabinet meeting that the Rafale files were at his home.
This was not allowed by Speaker Mahajan after protests from the treasury benches. When Rahul tried to read the transcript, his microphone was switched off. As the Congress protested this with the Speaker, Rahul looked up at the press box and then the visitors’ gallery with a shrug attracting their attention to what was happening.
The Speaker later told him he could not be allowed to play the audio or read the transcript unless he could personally authenticate its veracity. As disruptions continued, the Speaker adjourned the House for five minutes.