A discussion in Rajya Sabha on the recent increase of minimum support price (MSP) for kharif crops was held hostage to Trinamool Congress’s dogged determination to not let BJP president Amit Shah speak in Parliament.
During the afternoon session, House proceedings were not interrupted for all of six minutes. A bevy of senior Union ministers stayed on their feet, in their seats, for the duration of the proceedings, taking on the Opposition members for stalling Shah’s speech.
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu’s attempt to “name” the TMC MPs in the Well fell flat after loud cries of “No” from the entire House, save the treasury benches.
“Naming” under Rule 255 of Rajya Sabha forces an MP to skip the rest of the day’s proceedings.
The seven Trinamool MPs remained in the Well throughout, with the others standing. An attempt by Naidu to get a sense of the House on the next course of action failed to break the deadlock. While Naidu gave RJD’s Manoj Jha an opportunity, Jha showed the mirror to the government. “… history comes to mock us time and again. In this House, there have been ministers who said, ‘disruption is a strategy’. So I believe that we should look at it in totality,” the RJD MP said, referring to a statement by then Leader of Opposition in Upper House Arun Jaitley during the UPA government.
Earlier, Trinamool MP Manas Bhunia had raised the matter of his notice under Rule 267 right at the start, and when Naidu said it would be taken up on Wednesday, he settled down and Shah commenced his speech. The BJP MP had spoken for a few minutes, highlighting the government’s commitment for farmers, when Bhunia was suddenly on his feet again. He repeated the reminder about the notice, only this time his party colleagues had already started purposefully walking towards the Well of the House.
Several orders from the Chair to get back to their seats failed to cut ice. The interruption means that when Shah re-commences his speech, MPs could object to him speaking on the same notice for two consecutive days.
As the House rapidly descended into chaos, ministers Prakash Javadekar, J P Nadda, Vijay Goel, Dharmendra Pradhan and Mansukhlal Mandaviya were on their feet, taking on the Opposition. Soon, Ravi Shankar Prasad hurriedly walked in to take his seat beside Shah. “Amit Shah-ji is speaking…. He is the president of the party…. He must be allowed to speak, Sir. What is this, Sir,” an agitated Prasad asked, even as Bhupendra Yadav, a few seats behind him, waved the rulebook at the Chair.
Yadav briefly showed it to Shah before urging the Chair to name the errant MPs. In the melee, HRD Minister Javadekar referred to Shah as Anil-ji — the BJP president’s full name is Amit Anilbhai Shah. An angry Naidu threatened to not take the Trinamool notice on Wednesday either. “I will not go by dictation of one party. This House belongs to all political parties,” Naidu said.
When he sought “advice” from floor leaders, many like Congress’s Anand Sharma hedged and said that the discussion on farmers could continue once the House is in order. The House was finally adjourned for the day at 3.03 pm.