After six adjournments in the Rajya Sabha and noisy scenes in the well of the House, Opposition MPs sat in the House after the final adjournment to protest against the government’s “unilateral” decision to extend the sittings of the Upper House for one more day. They also held a mock Parliament to criticise the government and remind it of its obligations, before marching out to hold a protest in front of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi.
Opposition leaders said that they were informed about the extension only on Tuesday morning at the meeting of the Business Advisory Committee. They also raised objection that there was no formal announcement of the extension before Deputy Chairman Harivansh announced that the House would meet again on Wednesday morning.
Government sources cited the BAC meeting to deny charges of not taking the Opposition into confidence. “(Chairman) discussed the matter in BAC today followed by another meeting with leaders of about 15 Opposition parties. He assured them that he will also talk to the leader of House and did so. He decided on extension of session as per rules and powers conferred on him,” said a source.
Government also cited Rule 12 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States, according to which “the Council shall sit on such dates as the Chairman, having regard to the state of business of the Council, may from time to time direct”.
During the mock Parliament, sources said, Congress MP Jairam Ramesh said it was unprecedented in the history of Parliament for an extension to be announced without telling the Opposition. Trinamool MP Sukhendu Shekhar Roy, according to sources, said when a sense of the House is sought for even an hour’s extension of business then how could that be bypassed for a day’s time.
MoS (Parliamentary Affairs) Vijay Goel said it was the Chairman’s decision to extend the session and the Deputy Chairman had merely conveyed it, but the explanation failed to cut ice.
In the morning meeting with Chairman Venkaiah Naidu, Opposition leaders said they would have to leave for their respective states because of prior commitments since the session was scheduled only till January 8. They told him that the atmosphere in the House is not conducive to transacting legislative business.