Monsoon session: Row over Lalit Modi controversy washes out Lok Sabha for 2nd day

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Updated: July 23, 2015 4:04:51 PM

Lok Sabha failed to transact any business for the second straight day as confrontation between ruling and opposition sides intensified with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hitting back at Congress...

Lok Sabha failed to transact any business for the second straight day as confrontation between ruling and opposition sides intensified with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hitting back at Congress by raking up certain comments of Robert Vadra and demanding action against him for “demeaning” MPs.

Pandemonium was unleashed as soon as BJP member Prahlad Joshi referred to Facebook post of Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law in the House which was already paralysed since yesterday because of opposition demands for resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over various controversies.

Joshi said Vadra had “demeaned” Parliamentarians and wanted that the issue be referred to the Privileges Committee of Parliament and he be brought before the House.

His remark angered Sonia Gandhi who rose to protest strongly, leading her party members who intensified their slogan-shouting against the government.

Joshi’s remarks added fuel to the fire as the Congress members had already stormed the Well of the House, continuing with their demands for resignation of Swaraj and Raje in connection with Lalit Modi controversy and that of Chouhan over Vyapam scam. “No resignation, no discussion”, they kept shouting.

Amid the din, Leader of Congress in the House Mallikarjun Kharge went to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to say that Joshi’s remarks should be immediately expunged as Vadra is not a member of the House.

Vadra, in the Facebook post, had taken a dig at the NDA government without naming it before the Monsoon session began on July 21. “Parliament begins and so do their petty diversionary political tactics… People of India are not fooled. Regret to see India led by such so-called leaders !!,” Vadra had said in his post.

The din created by the war of slogan-shouting forced the Speaker to adjourn the House for the day, minutes past noon.

Earlier also, the House was adjourned immediately after it met at 11 AM.

Earlier, Mahajan repeatedly appealed to the members, who were in the Well, to go back to their seats and not show placards.

Failure to do so would mean that they are not interested, the Speaker added.

The BJP members too protested standing in the isle and by showing placards which read: ‘Congress ki raaj jahan, ghotala ki baandh waha (Wherever there is a Congress government, there is flood of corruption), ‘Ulta chor kotwal ko dante’ (Pot calling kettle black).

They were demanding probe into the alleged corruption in Assam and Goa.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was seen asking the BJP members not to go into the Well.

Later, Jaitley and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy persuaded BJP members to return to their seats.

RS adjourns twice after verbal duel between Oppn, ruling BJP

Heated exchanges between the opposition and treasury benches in the Rajya Sabha over modalities for a discussion on the Lalit Modi controversy, today forced two adjournments of the House without transacting any business.

While opposition led by Congress pressed for suspension of business to discuss the issue and seek the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for allegedly trying to help the controversial former IPL head Lalit Modi, Leader of the House Arun Jaitley rebutted it saying the notice given by Anand Sharma (Cong) only sought a discussion without any condition or caveat like resignation of any minister.

The treasury benches ruled out the resignation of any minister and said the government was ready for discussion on the issue, while the Opposition demanded that Swaraj, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje should quit on the issue. They also sought resignation of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Vyapam scam.

The ruckus led to adjournment of the House till noon for the first time, and again till 2 PM as similar scenes continued.

Soon after obituary references were made and papers laid on the table, Sharma and other opposition members including Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) and Naresh Agarwal (SP) said they had given notice under rule 267 for suspension of business to take up discussion on the issue.

Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said notices under this rule had been served earlier this week as well demanding discussion and subject to condition that some ministers should resign.

“Your condition or caveat is something that I cannot implement… I know your notice was with condition but that condition is not within my powers to implement. I can only take note of what is within my powers, that is discussion,” he said.

The opposition members rose in protest to press their demand, which was strongly opposed by BJP members.

At this, Kurien said “if discussion is not happen, what is the point of this.”

While Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said no minister will resign, while Jaitley said the notice given by Sharma today was without any such condition.

Displaying a copy of the notice, Jaitley said “his notice today does not say the ministers must resign. His notice must be admitted and discussion should begin immediately.”

Yechury said it was breach of parliamentary privilege if a member’s notice given to the Chair finds way to the government. Jaitley retorted by saying “please educate yourself on procedures,” saying the secretary general of Rajya Sabha should then make “every effort to circulate it (the notice) to every member” of the House.

“Mr Yechury’s illiteracy of rules does not make valid argument,” he said demanding an apology from the Left leader charging him with casting aspersions on the Chair.

Kurien said Yechury was free to move a notice on breach of privilege notice if he felt his rights have been breached.

Congress members remained unrelenting and moved into aisles shouting slogans seeking dismisal of ministers, which was countered by the BJP members.
As the ruckus continued, Kurien said he had no option but to adjourn the House and, soon thereafter, adjourned the proceedings till noon.

When it reassembled and took up the Question Hour, Congress members were again on their feet raising slogans as Chairman Hamid Ansari called upon them to maintain decorum.

As Ansari started the Question Hour proceedings, Congress members were in the aisle raising the Vyapam scam issue and demanding the resignation of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

Ansari asked members not to display posters in the House as he saw Congress member Hanumantha Rao was carrying a poster on the Vyapam scam calling for Chouhan’s resignation. “I request members of the House to allow the Question Hour to proceed,” the Chairman said.

As sharp exchanges between opposition and treasury benches and slogan-shouting continued, Ansari adjourned the House till 2 PM.

When the House met after two adjournments at 2 PM, Congress members continued to create a ruckus and were on their feet holding placards and raising slogans.

On the other side, members in the Treasury bench were also on their feet shouting, “We are ready for debate.”

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “What is the point of order? We will not allow any disturbance. We are ready to debate.”

Amid din, Yechury raised objection to the reference made by Jaitley day before yesterday.

“This is an unfortunate reference made by Leader of the House. We don’t raise objections to get television opportunity. This is very wrong…It is injustice to charge us like this,” he said, adding that he had not objected yesterday as he had thought Jaitley’s remarks would be expunged from the records.

Yechury sought a ruling from the chair on this matter saying either the reference should be corrected from Parliament records or Jaitley apologised to the entire House.

Quoting rules under which the government can take action against Union Minister Sushma Swaraj and some state leaders, Yechury said the Representation of the People Act specified how action should be and can be taken against them.

As Yechury pressed for a ruling on these two issues, the Chairman said, “I will go through it. …If you want a ruling, I need time.”

Deputy Leader of Congress Anand Sharma also objected as to why the notice for suspension of business in Rajya Sabha to hold a debate on scams that he had served to the House, was shared with the government.

To this, the Chair said it is a practice that every notice is shared with the Parliamentary Affairs Minister.

As the uproar in the House continued, Naqvi kept saying, “They are not prepared for the debate. They need more time to do homework.”

Kurien asked members to calm down and resume their seat. As his pleas went unheeded, he adjourned the House for the day.

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