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Parliament Monsoon Session: Both Houses Adjourned for the Day Amid Oppn Uproar

Rahul Gandhi protests against farm laws.

Rahul Gandhi protests against farm laws.

Proceedings in Rajya Sabha were repeatedly disrupted on Monday as opposition members protested on the phone-tapping, farm laws.

Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day on Monday after passage of two bills without discussions amid relentless protests by Opposition members who raised slogans and showed placards on the Pegasus snooping row and farmers’ issue. As soon as the House met at 3 pm after repeated adjournments during the day, Lok Sabha took up the Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021, separately.

Discussion on the two bills could not take place as Opposition members continued to stage protests demanding a discussion on the Pegasus snooping allegations and the farmers’ demand of repealing the three new agri laws. Rama Devi, who was chairing the proceedings, repeatedly urged protesting members to return to their seats and participate in the discussions. However, with protesting MPs not relenting, she went ahead with the consideration and passage of the two bills.

Earlier in the day, the House saw repeated adjournments and when it met at 2 pm and ran for a few minutes, papers were laid on the table and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman introduced the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2021. As soon as the House met in the morning, Speaker Om Birla paid tributes to personnel of the armed forces for their valour and sacrifice during the 1999 Kargil War.

On the 22nd anniversary of ‘Operation Vijay’, mounted to flush out Pakistani troops from the heights of Kargil, Speaker Birla also expressed his gratitude to the family members of the heroes of the war. Members observed silence for those who made the supreme sacrifice.

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He also congratulated Mirabai Chanu for winning a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Soon thereafter, opposition members trooped into the Well raising slogans, disrupting the proceedings.

While the Pegasus snooping row remained the dominant issue with the Opposition members, they also raised slogans and displayed placards in support of agitating farmers. Some opposition members demanded the presence of the prime minister in the House and raised slogans such as “Modi sarkar jawab do" (Modi government please answer) on the Pegasus issue.

“The government wants to give a reply. If you want a reply, please go back to your seats … people choose you to raise their issues. You are raising slogans… this hurts the dignity of the House," Speaker Birla said.

Proceedings in Rajya Sabha were repeatedly disrupted on Monday as opposition members protested on the phone-tapping, farm laws and other issues and demanded a discussion after the suspension of regular business. The agitated members pressed the Chair to allow the Leader of Opposition to speak and created an uproar, forcing five adjournments.

Soon after the House paid glowing tributes to the martyrs of the Kargil war and congratulated Mirabai Chanu for winning a silver medal in Tokyo Olympics, MPs belonging to the Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC) and other opposition parties rushed into the Well raising slogans against the government. Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said members are being prevented from raising issues of public importance by such conduct.

Amid the din, Naidu said he has not allowed notices under Rule 267 by opposition leaders including from Mallikarjun Kharge and K C Venugopal (both Congress), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), TMC’s Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, Elamaram Kareen (CPI) and others as the issues they want to raise are being discussed in the normal course of time. Rule 267 provides for setting aside the business of the day to take up discussion on the issue being sought to be raised.

Naidu did not mention the issues the MPs wanted to raise under rule 267. He said important public interest issues have been allowed to be raised through zero hour and special mention but “the house is not able to perform its duty… members they are denied an opportunity." “We are becoming helpless day by day," he said.

Since the start of the monsoon session of Parliament last week, zero-hour mentions which members could not raise because of disruption pertained to wide-ranging issues including Covid vaccine, unemployment due to the pandemic, problems of students availing higher education, hike in petroleum product prices, freedom of the press, killings of Indians in South Africa and sharing of Cauvery waters between states. “All these important issues could not be discussed because of this situation," he said, referring to the disruption being caused by the opposition MPs.

“We are becoming helpless. People should know what are the important issues admitted, members were present, they want to speak but they were not permitted by few," he said. Soon after he adjourned the proceedings till noon.

Similar protests continued after the House met again and the proceedings were adjourned four more times till 5 PM. As soon as the House reassembled at 4 PM, BJP member Sasmit Patra, in the Chair, asked Jugalsinh Mathurji Lokhandwala to continue the debate on The Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021.

However, he could not continue for long as opposition members again raised slogans against the government. Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge sought a debate under Rule 267 which was not allowed by the Chair.

Patra noted that the Chairman has already given his verdict on the matter and so it could not be considered. Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has already spoken in the House regarding the alleged snooping using an Israeli company spyware Pegasus. With sloganeering continuing, Patra adjourned the House till 5 PM.

Earlier, as soon as the House resumed after lunch at 2 PM, BJP member Surendra Singh Nagar, in the Chair, asked Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani to withdraw The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, which was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 2012. Nagar asked BJP leader Jugalsinh Mathurji Lokhandwala to initiate a discussion on The Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021. While Lokhandwala was speaking on the bill, opposition members asked Nagar to allow the Leader of Opposition to speak.

However, Nagar said the members should first return to their seats.He also said that he will allow the LoP to speak after the first speaker on the bill completes his submission.

But the opposition members refused to relent and started raising slogans against the government. Amid the din, Nagar adjourned the House till 3 PM. During the pre-lunch session, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman laid the papers pertaining to a notification on reduction of customs duties amid the din.

Deputy Chairman Harivansh made repeated appeals to the protesting members to return to their seats and allow the Question Hour to be taken up. He, however, continued with the Question Hour amid the din by opposition members.

“This is the House of elders and you should behave accordingly. Please return to your seats and allow the question hour to function," the deputy chairman said.

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first published:July 26, 2021, 07:34 IST