A day after he broke ranks with the Congress saying it should let Parliament function, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party joined the Congress and the Left parties in the well of the Lok Sabha protesting against the government.
The issue over which his MPs raised slogans and displayed placards was, however, different. While the Congress and the Left have been demanding the resignation of BJP ministers whose names have come up in controversies, the SP wanted the government to release caste data immediately.
On Monday, Mulayam had told the Congress, “Enough is enough… We will not back you if you keep protesting.” SP members were not in the well Monday. This continued to rankle with other Opposition MPs Tuesday. When Mulayam’s name was called out to speak on the matter, his MPs ran back to their seats but Left and Congress MPs including Sonia Gandhi booed him.
The SP leader’s change of mind obviously embarrassed the treasury benches. Leaders gleefully spoke of how the Prime Minister had praised Mulayam Singh for breaking ranks with the Congress at the BJP’s parliamentary party meeting in the morning, and a number of BJP MPs were seen thanking him in the morning. Later, party leaders refused to admit Modi has taken Mulayam’s name in his speech.
After the Speaker disallowed an adjournment motion on various issues, Congress and Left MPs rushed to the well. SP and RJD members joined them with placards saying “Do justice to backward communities”. TMC and NCP MPs stood up in solidarity.
As a result, no legislative business was transacted. The second half too saw repeated adjournments with vociferous protests. Leader of the Congress Mallikarjun Kharge demanded admission of a notice for the adjournment motion rather than a scheduled discussion under Rule 193. Kharge and Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu argued over this.
Opposition MPs returned to the well as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj watched on from her front row seat. Some of the slogans were in Malayalam, Kannada and Marathi. While CPM MPs led the chanting of Malayalam slogans, Ashok Chavan led those in Marathi.
When Sonia Gandhi walked in around 2:45 pm, some BJP MPs responded with slogans such as “Pappu beta kahan Hai?” and “Chhota Bheem kahan hai?”. Rahul Gandhi entered a little after 3 pm.
To soothe sore throats, Sonia was seen giving a packet of lozenges to Kharge, who in turn kept handing them out to his party colleagues.
A discussion under Rule 193 on “Matters arising out of IPL controversy” was set to begin when TMC leader Sougata Roy raised a point of order seeking to know why the government was not accepting adjournment motions. Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai said the motions had been disallowed by the Speaker. Arjun Meghwal, who had given the notice for the discussion, had begun speaking when some Congress MPs marched to the chair, tore up paper and threw the pieces towards Thambidurai, leading to an adjournment for 20 minutes.
After the House reconvened, Mahajan said it was she who had disallowed the motions. At one point, BJP MPs Uma Bharti, Jagdambika Pal, Kirron Kher and some others went to the well to obstruct Congress members. The House had to be adjourned again. Later, Congress whip K C Venugopal and Deepender Hooda complained in writing to the Speaker about BJP MPs having elbowed and intimidated Gaurav Gogoi and Ravneet Singh Bittu, though they did not name the BJP MPs.
At 4 pm, the House was adjourned for the day with Mahajan expressing her displeasure at the Congress MPs’ behaviour.
“I am extremely sad over the way you behaved with the chair,” she observed. “The way the papers were thrown at the Deputy Speaker cannot be pardoned. This is not the way… I am warning you… throwing paper is not proper.”
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