For the second consecutive day, chairman M Venkaiah Naidu adjourned the Rajya Sabha until 2 pm after Opposition members created a disturbance minutes after the House met in the morning. Upset by the move, Opposition parties including the Congress, the Left and the Trinamool Congress boycotted afternoon proceedings after briefly attending; they claimed their voice was being muzzled.
The Opposition parties wrote to the chairman protesting what they called the muting of states’ voices in the council of states. Naidu later told the House — with key Opposition parties absent — that he had adjourned for a longer period because “frequent adjournments are adversely impacting the image and credibility of this House”.
Naidu had adjourned the House 10 minutes after it met when Samajwadi Party MPs entered the well during zero hour raising the issue of “fake encounters” in UP. Trinamool MPs, meanwhile, wanted to raise the issue about West Bengal governor writing directly to state government officials.
The chairman, who had turned down a Trinamool notice under rule 267 for discussing the issue suspending all business, adjourned the House after five minutes. The Opposition met after the adjournment and decided to boycott proceedings for the rest of the day if not given an opportunity to raise the issue. At 2 pm, Trinamool’s Derek O Brien raised the issue again, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said members should be allowed to speak for a minute, and deputy chairman P J Kurien turned down the plea and said discussion on the motion of thanks on President’s address will continue.
Amid the noise, Kurien adjourned the House till 3 pm and Azad declared the Opposition was boycotting the rest of the day’s proceedings. “We have seen that in the last two days whenever any leader of the Opposition or MP stands up… instead of listening to him.. the House is adjourned till 2 pm,” Azad told reporters outside. He was flanked by Trinamool, SP, NCP, CPM, CPI, DMK and AAP leaders.
“We are not intruding into question hour. We are not intruding into government business. What we want, what has been provided for us in the rules, regulations and procedures of the conduct of business… Unfortunately we are not allowed to make use of rules. The moment MPs get up, the House is adjourned up to 2 pm. . The voice of the Opposition is being muzzled outside, but we do not want this to happen with the Opposition parties inside the House,” he added.
O’Brien said, “Democracy is being murdered both inside and outside the House,” and called it “daylight murder of democracy”. “Parliament is not the only institution being marginalised. Others are being marginalised too,” he said. “Governor is supposed to be aided and advised by the council of ministers. If he has something to say there is an accepted principle and precedent. This [Bengal Governor Kesharinath Tripathi had written a letter directly to a divisional commissioner] is another dangerous precedent.”
Samajwadi Party’s Naresh Agrawal said the parties are not expressing no confidence in the chair. “But we hope the chair does not do any such anything… because the way Rajya Sabha is being run… it seems the Opposition voice is being muzzled. We are not here just to pass the bills tabled by the government. We have come to raise the issue of the common man. But if that is not allowed, then what is the use of this House…. we are not voicing no confidence in the chair… Par kahi na kahin vyavahar badalna hoga… the way Rajya Sabha TV is being used… every party should get space on Rajya Sabha TV… Agar chair ka yahi vyavahar raha tho aage hum log nirnay lenge,” he said.