Rajya Sabha: Rules go for a toss

A few opposition members spearheaded by the TMC climbed on to the chairman's podium, tore official papers, and heckled the presiding officer as they opposed the government's attempt to push two contentious farm bills on Sunday without considering their demand for sending the proposed legislations to a house committee.

Ruckus prevailed after Deputy Chairman Harivansh overruled opposition pleas for postponing Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar's reply to the debate on the two bills till Monday, as the scheduled sitting time of the House was over.

As slogan-shouting opposition members rushed into the well, Harivansh put motions by Congress, TMC, DMK and CPM members for sending the bills to a select committee of Rajya Sabha for greater scrutiny, for vote. He declared the motions had been negated by voice vote, even as movers of the motion sought division.

As the Chair took a call, clause-by-clause, Derek O'Brien of the TMC and some other opposition members climbed on to the podium flashing the rule book. Some members tore official papers and the presiding officer had to be protected by House marshals.

As unruly scenes prevailed, mikes installed in the House were muted and a few minutes later the proceedings were adjourned for around 15 minutes.

When the House re-assembled, the opposition members were again in the well chanting slogans. At least one of them climbed on the table of officials. Harivansh said a division of vote cannot be sought from the well of the House and insisted they should first return to their seats.

Later, O'Brien on Sunday said that the BJP "broke the back of Indian democracy". "Today is a historic day. Opposition MPs broke some microphones in the Rajya Sabha but BJP broke the back of Indian democracy,’’ he told ANI.

"If you want to cheat us, we will give it back to you twice as much. Do not criticise the opposition conduct. The problem is...this is not the Gujarat Gymkhana, this is the Parliament of India. You have to follow certain rules. Mr Modi and Mr Shah must realise, we will fight till our last drop of blood to protect Parliament and democracy," he added.

Taking on Twitter, O'Brien posted a video message after coming out of the Rajya Sabha, lamenting that even the RSTV feed had been cut.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal