NEW DELHI: Rajya Sabha proceedings were adjourned for the day on Monday amid protests by Opposition parties over their demand to revoke the suspension of 12 members of the House.
As soon the House reassembled at 4 pm following four adjournments of varying durations, Deputy Chairman Harivansh called Home Minister Amit Shah to give a statement on the Nagaland firing incident in which 14 civilians were killed.
Even as the minister was making a statement, Opposition members kept raising slogans against the government.
Shah had made the same statement earlier in the Lok Sabha.
As soon as Shah finished his statement, the Deputy Chairman adjourned the House for the day as Opposition members refused to relent and continued their uproar over the suspension of 12 MPs.
Earlier, Rajya Sabha proceedings were adjourned till 4 pm as the House was unable to function amid protests by opposition MPs who had trooped inside the well over the suspension issue.
This was the fourth adjournment of the day.
After the House assembled at 3 pm following the third adjournment, Sushmit Patra, who was in the Chair, called for a short-term discussion on the situation in the country due to inflation, including the rise in the prices of petroleum products.
Patra called the Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge to speak on the matter.
The septuagenarian leader, however, asked the chair to first revoke the suspension of the 12 MP and allow them to participate in the discussion.
Kharge said, “In a democracy, it is a crime to run the House and start a discussion after suspending 12 members.”
Patra said that the proposal for the short-term discussion was brought by them only and now they don’t want to discuss it.
“This topic is decided by them. The opposition wanted to discuss this and the government has agreed for this discussion,” said Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
“They are talking about democracy and we have agreed for it. Is it not democracy and spirit of the house?” “We are not running away from debate. We want to debate and discuss price hikes but you are seeing this. This is the hypocrisy of the opposition,” Sitharaman said pointing towards the MPs who trooped in the well of the House with placards and were raising slogans.
After this, Patra asked Congress leader Anand Sharma to speak on the inflation issue as Kharge was not speaking on it.
However, there was no answer.
“You had given a proposal for short-duration discussion,” Patra said.
Patra also called NCP MP Fouzia Khan to participate in the debate, who too asked the Chair to first revoke the suspension of the opposition MPs.
Patra again called for Kharge, who asked him to first bring the House in order, then only he would speak.
“You first bring the House in order. I am ready to speak but you revoke the suspension,” the Leader of Opposition said.
Patra requested the protesting MPs to return to their seats saying Kharge was ready to speak, The protest, however, continued.
Amid the din, Leader of House Piyush Goyal said, “Now the leader of opposition claims that he is ready to speak and wants to start the discussion and asks you to bring the House in order. This is like playing a game. Their own members are here (in the Well)….The Congress members are in the House.”
The Leader of the Opposition “on one hand claims to bring the House in order and on other hand encourages its own MPs to be in the well,” Goyal said while holding the opposition responsible for the price rise, particularly of petroleum.
The Union government has not only reduced excise duty on petroleum products the BJP-ruled states have also reduced VAT on petrol and diesel, he said.
“They (non-NDA parties) are responsible for this situation, particularly on petroleum prices and to cover up they are in action,” Goyal said, adding the whole nation is watching.
Following this, Patra adjourned the House session.
Earlier in the day, following a round of adjournment, when the House gathered in the afternoon, Deputy Chairman Harivansh called for laying on the table the statement of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
The deputy chairman then sought initiation of the short-duration discussion on the ‘situation arising out of price rise in the country including the rise in the prices of petroleum products’.
Kharge stated that he was ready for the discussion but requested that the suspended MPs be first called in the House.
“I request you to please call them inside (the House) for once,” he said, noting the 12 MPs have been out of the House for five days.
To this, the Chair said the Leader of Opposition and Leader of the House should sit together to find a solution to this.
Kharge said the suspended MPs also want to discuss the price rise issue.
However, the deputy chairman called out his name to initiate the discussion.
When Kharge continued with his plea to call the suspended MPs to the House, Harivansh called the name of Anand Sharma then Fauzia Khan and subsequently Manoj Jha to participate in the debate.
However, no member spoke a word on the issue of price rise.
Opposition members started shouting and many members trooped into the well following which the deputy chairman asked them to go back to their seats.
As the protest continued, he adjourned the House for an hour till 3 PM.
Twelve Opposition MPs were suspended from Rajya Sabha last Monday for the entire Winter Session of Parliament for their “unruly” conduct in the previous session in August.