THE BJP Wednesday accused the Opposition of having “damaged the dignity and decorum of the temple of our democracy” after Congress and Left MPs, protesting over the farm laws and alleged Pegasus snooping, tore agenda papers and threw them towards the Chair of the Speaker and Treasury benches in the Lok Sabha.
As BJP MPs demanded action against them, Speaker Om Birla summoned them to his chamber and issued a warning. The MPs who were called were the Congress’s Manickam Tagore, Hibi Eden, Gurjeet Singh Aujla, Dean Kuriackose, Ravneet Singh Bittu, S Jothimani, Deepak Baij, Saptagiri Sankar Ulaka and V Vaithilingam, and the CPM’s A M Arif.
Speaking to reporters later, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said it was the Opposition that was running away from a discussion. “The Opposition doesn’t want to utilise the parliamentary session to discuss important issues. Ministers are not allowed to answer or give statements on the issues raised. All this conduct will ruin the country’s image in front of the world.”
Questioning the scenes inside the Lok Sabha, Thakur said, “There is a way to protest, but today the Opposition damaged the dignity and decorum of the temple of our democracy. They have ashamed the world’s largest democracy by their condemnable actions.”
The Congress MPs argued that they were protesting with the usual sloganeering till 12 noon, seeking the Chair’s permission for Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to speak on the adjournment motion notice given by him for a discussion on the Pegasus issue. The Treasury benches opposed this, reiterating that the presiding officers of the two Houses had already said that any discussion could take place.
The Speaker conducted the Question Hour amidst the din. As he continued with the business of the House despite the slogan-shouting, Congress and Left MPs tore the business papers. They intensified their protests after noon when Birla left and Rajendra Agrawal took the Chair. Even senior Congress leaders were seen tearing the papers and handing over the same to the shouting MPs who were in the well of the House.
Initially the Chair remained unfazed and continued calling ministers to lay the papers they were meant to. But the BJP’s Nishikant Dubey then stood up seeking to move a privilege motion against Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. Dubey, who has written multiple times to the Speaker demanding Tharoor’s removal as chairman of the Information Technology parliamentary panel, said the Congress MP was planning to take up the Pegasus issue in the committee even as his colleagues in the House “ did not want to discuss (it) but indulged in distractions”.
When Agrawal said the notice had been received and the Speaker would look into it, the protests by Opposition MPs intensified. A placard flung in the air by an MP landed in the press gallery. As Parliamentary Affairs minister Pralhad Joshi protested, Agrawal adjourned the proceedings immediately.
Amidst the ruckus, the Lok Sabha transacted some legislative and financial business, passing the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2021, and the Supplementary Demands for Grants (first batch) for 2021-22, without any discussion.
Moving the IBC amendment Bill, Minister of State for Corporate Affairs Rao Inderjit Singh said, “It has been five years since the Bankruptcy Code came into force. There has been big progress in the ease of doing business during these five years… The government felt a need to amend the law to ease the difficulties of medium and small-scale industries.”
BJD member Bhartruhari Mahtab, who was in the Chair at the time, called out names of 20 Opposition MPs who had given notices against the Bill. But the Opposition kept protesting, and it was finally passed by a voice vote.
The House also passed two appropriation Bills without a discussion.
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