There was no sign of let up as trading of charges continued between the treasury and Opposition in the Lok Sabha with the introduction of two Bills amid the din and repeated adjournments.
While the government alleged that the Opposition did not have any “intention” to debate any issue but a “mindset to create disorder”, the Opposition maintained that they wanted a discussion on the Pegasus issue and intensified efforts to put up a fiercer offence.
The Opposition MPs were also agitated over their protests not shown or heard on the Lok Sabha TV and had earlier complained to Speaker Om Birla. On Thursday, the television screens placed inside the House were showing the protesting MPs and their placards — with “Pegasus Snoopgate a Treason” and “Save Farmers Save India” written on them — but the MPs later realised that the telecast version had blocked their protests.
“This government is trying to trample over every democratic right. Not only that, they are not allowing us to raise the issues by not admitting the adjournment motions we are giving repeatedly. Even the Lok Sabha TV is used for a political purpose only to show the ruling party and not to show the Opposition protesting,” said SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who has been protesting over the contentious farm Bills in the Lok Sabha.
“Today they even went to the extent of playing a trick on the MPs where TV screens inside the House showed our protests but what the public sees did not show it. They stooped to this level; clearly shows that the government is on the backfoot which is why the government is refusing to discuss the issue – be it farmer protest, inflation rate, fuel price or the snoopgate.”
The treasury benches, on the other hand, have taken strong offence to the Opposition MPs trying to hold placards against the Chair.
The question hour ran for 30 minutes but the slogan-shouting by the MPs in the well of the House forced Speaker Om Birla to adjourn the proceedings. “People want you to raise questions…they are asking why our money is wasted like this,” the Speaker said.
The House functioned barely for five minutes after it was reconvened at 2 pm. Amid the din, Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan introduced a Bill to amend the Central Universities Act, which aims to establish a Central university in Ladakh.
However, Congress leader Manish Tewari said there was a time-honoured convention of the Parliament that until the House is in order, a legislation cannot be discussed. RSP’s N K Premchandran too opposed the introduction of the Bill. The House was adjourned immediately after the Bill was introduced.
When the House met at 5 pm, the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, was introduced by a voice vote amid similar objections by the Opposition.
Earlier, an attempt made by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury to raise the issue of the alleged rape of a minor did not yield result. “In the national capital, a nine-year-old Dalit girl was raped, killed and forcibly cremated. The House should condemn it,” Chowdhury said. But this provoked Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal, who took strong exception to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the girl’s family in Delhi. “Why is Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury not talking about such incidents in Rajasthan? His leader went to see the family and did things that violated child protection rights. It is shameful that he has shared the photo of the girl’s family, which is in violation of the rules,” Meghwal said.
As the Opposition disrupted proceedings for the 13th consecutive day with their demand, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said the Pegasus issue had come up in the past too. “This issue has come up in 2019 and now again…The IT Minister has given a statement in Parliament and the members could ask for clarification on the statement. However, they have no intention to discuss the issue so they did not even ask for clarification.
“Instead, they snatched the papers from the minister to insult the Chair and did not allow the House to run…Their mindset is to create disorder and spoil the atmosphere in Parliament,” he said.
Meanwhile, at a press conference at the BJP headquarters, senior party leader and former Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hit out at the Congress and its leadership for the ruckus in Parliament, and tried to counter the Opposition’s allegation that Bills are being passed in the din. “Our Parliamentary history has seen a distinct pattern — till the interests of one dynasty are safeguarded, Parliament is ‘allowed’ to function,” he said.
“It is worth noting that when in power, UPA passed dozens of Bills either without debate or with pandemonium in the din. This includes the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2007, Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Amendment Bill, 2007, All- India Institute of Medical. Sciences and the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research. (Amendment) Act, 2007 and more.”