For the second day running, opposition paralysed the functioning of Rajya Sabha pressing their demand for the sacking of Union Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti for her hate speech and gave clear indications of further trouble today unless the government yields.
Trouble started on the issue as soon as both the Houses met for the day at 11 AM with members of opposition parties like Trinamool Congress, Congress and RSP shouting slogans.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi present in the Lok Sabha after his visits, both domestic and foreign, opposition members vociferously pressed for a statement from him. They questioned as to how he was allowing a minister, who uses such “abusive” language, to remain in his ministry.
BJP members countered strongly the opposition attack on Jyoti, who was present in the House.
Rejecting the opposition demand, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the matter has ended as she has already apologised and the Prime Minister has disapproved of her comments.
Upset over the government response, opposition members, including those from Congress, TMC and Left staged a walkout.
Normalcy returned to the House from Zero Hour onwards.
Proceedings of the Rajya Sabha, however, were washed out for the second day as opposition created pandemonium demanding Jyoti’s resignation.
Opposition attacked the Prime Minister, saying he was not coming to the House to speak on the issue. They wanted him to announce the “sacking” of the minister.
Trouble is expected again tomorrow when Prime Minister Modi will be present for answering questions relating to departments under his charge.
Naidu appealed to the opposition not to disrupt proceedings, saying they can talk out and walk out but “let there be no break out”.
Naidu’s appeal comes amidst no immediate signs of a breakthrough in the impasse with the government rejecting calls for Jyoti to resign from her post.
“The question does not arise at all. There is no question of the minister resigning at all,” Naidu told reporters while also ruling out any apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the row.
Earlier in the morning, Ashwani Kumar (Cong), who has given notice for a discussion, said the issue concerns the entire nation and accused the Minister of “abusing” everyone.
“Such comments can divide the nation,” he said, demanding Modi’s presence in the House and announcement about the minister’s sacking.
The House was adjourned four times in the pre-lunch sitting and twice again in the post-lunch period due to the opposition uproar, before it was adjourned for the day a little before 3 PM.
Deputy Leader of Congress in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma said the remarks made by the minister is “not only a cognisable but also compoundable offence” under section 153(A) of the IPC and demanded that the Prime Minister should come to the House and inform it that the minister has been sacked.
Section 153(A) of the IPC deals with the offence of promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence and language and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.
“We are not seeking any apology. The minister should be sacked. This is an insult to the Constitution. The Prime Minister should inform the House that the minister has been sacked,” Sharma said.
Opposition members alleged that Sadhvi Jyoti had “violated” the Constitution as her controversial utterances were against the word “secular” and its spirit as enshrined in the Constitution.
The entire Opposition was up on its feet from the word go and its members stormed the Well while raising slogans demanding the minister’s dismissal.
Naidu rejected the demand citing controversial remarks made in the past by leaders from other parties as well.
Countering the opposition, he referred to an incident during UPA rule when a central minister had allegedly made derogatory comments against Atal Bihari Vajpayee, which had led the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to apologise in the House as the minister had refused to do so.
Naidu also reminded the protesting Trinamool Congress MPs about the reported remarks of party MP Tapas Pal at a public meeting where he had allegedly threatened CPI-M cadres and their family members with rape and violence.
Members from Congress, SP and JD(U) trooped into the Well while those from CPI-M, CPI and Trinamool Congress were on their feet rejecting the government’s argument that the matter should be treated as closed since the minister has already expressed regret.