Opposition close ranks over Arunachal issue; disrupt RS proceedings

New Delhi: Opposition on Friday closed ranks in Rajya Sabha demanding recall of Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa, forcing three adjournments in the pre-lunch session as Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party staged a walk-out over the issue.

Protesting in the House for the fourth consecutive day on the issue, Leader of the Opposition and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said he has given a notice for adjournment of business to discuss the Arunachal Pradesh issue saying the central government was responsible for the stalemate in Parliament for the past several days.

The Governor, he claimed, called a session of the assembly without the consent or recommendation of the Cabinet and Chief Minister, set the agenda, decided on the seating arrangement, set the priority of items to be taken up including removal and its reporting to him.

This is 'unprecedented' in the Indian history as neither the President of India nor any Governor had called a session of Parliament or Assembly without the Cabinet approval, he said.

"No President or Governor gave directions as to who will sit on Chair, what item will be taken up, who will be removed," Azad said. The Opposition members charged the Governor with 'unconstitutional' conduct after the Gauhati High Court put on hold all his decision including move to advance the winter session of the assembly by a month.

Deputy Chairman P J Kurien tried to conduct the listed business, calling members to make Zero Hour submissions but the slogan shouting drowned what the members said. With members refusing to heed to his pleas, he adjourned the House till 1200 hours when Congress members trooped into the Well. When the House met again, members of Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party staged a walk out, while Congress members were again in the well.

Expressing solidarity, members from AIADMK, CPI-M, and JD-U were also on their feet, shouting slogans 'Recall Governor' "We are doing a protest walk out," said Sukhendu Sekhar Roy of TMC. Kiranmoy Nanda of also said something before walking out, which was not audible in the din.

The Constitution has been 'shredded to pieces,' Azad said. Law and order is a state subject and the state government requisitions paramilitary as well as Army when situation so demands. But never is a requisition of paramilitary or army done by a Governor when an elected government is in office, the Leader of Opposition said.

Arunchal Pradesh has an elected government with two-third majority and yet the Governor called paramilitary forces and "regrettably the Centre accepted his request," he said. When the proceedings could not take place in the Assembly as it was surrounded by hundreds of people, a parallel assembly sitting was held yesterday outside the assembly, he said.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said the adjournment motion cannot be discussed if the matter is sub-judice or the motion is pending with the Chairman. Azad said when every TV channel is discussing the issue, why can't Parliament discuss it.

The High Court, he said, has rejected Governor's call for assembly session and so the Governor should be recalled. Kurien said Chairman Hamid Ansari has admitted the adjournment motion and only the question of timing is to be decided. "In view of this no further discussion," he said.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the statements on the Governor should be expunged from the proceedings. Kesav Rao said the High Court ruling has vindicated that the Constitution had been violated. "If Constitution is violated in such a vulgar fashion, what is the House to do," he asked.

K C Tyagi (JD-U) said smaller parties are most vulnerable to such misuse of Constitution. "Have you ever heard of MLAs meeting in a dance bar", he said. "How can you hold meeting (of Assembly) in a restaurant?" Kurien said the subject can be taken up when the motion is discussed and called for Zero Hour mentions.

A V Singh Deo (BJD) raise the issue of One-rank-one- pension (OROP) for defence personnnel in the din, while Sanjiv Kumar (JMM) sought rehabilitation of people affected by underground coal fire in Jharia. But their submissions could not be heard in the din. As the din continued, the House was again adjourned for half and hour and then till 2.30 PM. However, Chairman Hamid Ansari persisted on taking up Question Hour and three listed questions were taken up in Rajya Sabha amid pandemonium.

"I think this matter was discussed in the first Hour. Let us get on with that. This may be an important matter but this is not the time for it. Please allow Question Hour," he said but his plea remained unheeded.

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