For the second day, Parliament was unable to function as the opposition, rejecting the government’s offer of a debate, forced repeated adjournments Wednesday, demanding the removal first of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the controversies surrounding them.
Rajya Sabha failed to transact any business for the second straight day due to the pandemonium. Meeting on its first working day this session, Lok Sabha too remained paralysed as Congress and Left members kept entering the well of the House with placards despite Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s warning of disciplinary action. Both Houses adjourned for the day after 2 pm.
The only work done in Lok Sabha was the green signal to a motion seeking extension of the term of the Joint Committee of Parliament on the land bill.
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Black bands on their arms, Congress members raised placards that read ‘Bade Modi meherban to chhote Modi pehelwan’ (a reference to the Prime Minister and former IPL chief Lalit Modi), ‘PM chuppi todo’ (PM, break your silence), ‘Modiji 56 inch dikhao, Sushma, Raje ko turant hatao’ (Show your might by removing Swaraj and Raje).
TRS members contributed to the uproar by raising the demand for a separate high court for Telangana. At present, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana share the same high court, two years after the bifurcation.
The Speaker disapproved of the action of the protesting members and warned that “in the event of disorderly conduct, I would be constrained to initiate appropriate disciplinary action against erring members”.
Mahajan said she has always provided “adequate” opportunity to all sections of the House to raise matters of topical interest and hoped that all members would adhere to the set norms of etiquette and standards of behaviour.
But immediately, Congress and Left members again stormed the well. Those from the TRS too trooped into the well in support of their demand for a separate high court. This forced the Speaker to adjourn the House for two hours, a few minutes after noon. The House witnessed similar scenes when it met at 2 pm. Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai adjourned the House for the day.
In Rajya Sabha, BSP’s Satish Chandra Misra, SP’s Naresh Agarwal, CPM’s Tapan Kumar Sen and CPI’s D Raja said they had given notices under Rule 267 to suspend business to take up discussion on the Lalit Modi issue and Vyapam scam.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is Leader of the House, asked the opposition to point out the provision of the law which Swaraj violated in allegedly trying to help Lalit Modi. Insisting on a discussion, he hit back at the Congress by referring to allegations of financial irregularities against its chief ministers in Himachal Pradesh, Puducherry and Kerala.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad proposed that some members who had given adjournment notice should be allowed to speak, prompting Jaitley to protest and ask whether such a practice could be allowed everyday.
Jaitley accused the opposition of doing “politics of slogan-shouting”. “There has been enough politics of slogan-shouting. You start with the debate. The House will not allow slogan-shouting,” he said.
At this point, BSP’s Mayawati targeted the Prime Minister saying the entire episode had “exposed” those who had claimed “na khaoonga, na khane doonga” (I will neither take bribe nor will I allow anyone to take it). Amid protests by BJP members, she demanded an impartial CBI probe and resignation of Chouhan.
JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav said the ministers whose names have come up in the controversies should resign. He said the BJP will emerge stronger after the probe clears their names. To drive home his point, he recalled how he and BJP leader L K Advani resigned — after their names came up in the Jain hawala case in the 1990s — until their names were cleared.
Rajiv Shukla of the Congress, who is the current IPL chairman, said the Lalit Modi issue was serious enough as it concerned corruption and the ministers should resign.
On the Vyapam scam, Jaitley said it was “squarely a state issue” and if the opposition wanted to change the rule to “discuss state issues and set up new precedents”, then issues ranging from Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Assam should also be discussed. “So we will be fair to all states… If they want to discuss the issue relating to Sushma Swaraj, please start the discussion right now,” he said.
CPM’s Sitaram Yechury said the Vyapam issue was not just restricted to one state as people linked to it had died even outside Madhya Pradesh under mysterious circumstances. The verbal clash continued whenever the House met after adjournments, leading to more adjournments.