A united Opposition created uproar in the Rajya Sabha while demanding resignation of Union Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti for her controversial remarks, forcing repeated adjournments.
It was trouble right from the word go with opposition also attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not coming to the House to speak on the issue and wanted him to announce the “sacking” of the minister in the House.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu rejected their demand citing controversial remarks made in the past by leaders from other parties as well.
BJP members engaged in angry exchange of words with those in the Opposition as the government appeared toughening its stand on the issue with a number of ministers countering the demand.
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.
The House was adjourned four times in the pre-lunch session because of the pandemonium.
Soon after Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari took up obituary references after the House met for the day, Opposition members were on their feet demanding action against the minister.
Renewing his demand for passing a condemnation resolution by the House, Naresh Agrawal (SP) said, “This House does not have faith in the minister and demands that she be sacked.”
Deputy Leader of Congress 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.
Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) noted that what the minister said yesterday was “not an apology”. “A mere apology will not absolve her of the crime,” he said.”…How can someone who violated the Constitution remain a minister…That minister has no right to remain a minister. Either the minister should resign or the Prime Minister should remove her,” he said.
In the din, Home Minister Rajnath Singh laid a statement on the killing of 14 CRPF jawans in Chhattisgarh after visiting Raipur yesterday.
Countering the Opposition, Naidu said, “One of the minsters, a new minister made some remarks outside the House, which are not acceptable, objectionable. The minister came to the House and regretted it and offered an apology…if the statement is not clear (to members), I will ask her to make the statement again,” he said.
As the Opposition members remained adamant on her dismissal, Naidu said controversial remarks were made in past too by leaders of other parties.
“One of the members, a former minister had made a serious remark against former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He did not apologise but then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had tendered an apology on his behalf,” Naidu said, and recalled someone had also called SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav a “terrorist”.
The Parliamentary Affairs Minister also referred to the controversial remarks “threatening rape” by Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Pal and recalled that after he apologised West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said what else she could do wondering whether she should kill him.
“This is not the way”, Naidu said resenting the continued protests on the issue by Opposition members. He also urged Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to allow the Home Minister to make a statement on Chhattisgarh Maoist attack.
Opposition members also took umbrage to Kurien allowing the Home Minister to make the statement when he had called Anand Sharma and Yechury to speak on the issue.
Yechury resented that Opposition members were not given a chance to seek clarifications on the minister’s statement “against the norms of the House”.
Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said if the Prime Minister, who has appointed Jyoti a minister takes action against her, it will send a signal and others will not make such remarks in future.
As Sharma kept insisting that what the minister said constituted of a criminal offence that could fetch an imprisonment of up to three years, members from the treasury benches told him to “go to the court”.
When Kurien called a member from the ruling BJP to speak on the issue, Opposition members resented it and trooped into the Well.
There were two adjournments in the Zero Hour.
Similar scenes were witnessed during the Question Hour also.
As Chairman Hamid Ansari took up the first question of the day, Congress members came into the Well shouting slogans. SP and JD-U members also joined them.
Ansari’s request to allow the Question Hour to proceed went in vain and amid din, he adjourned the House for 15 minutes.
When the House reassembled, Opposition members resumed their protest and the House was adjourned till 2 PM.