New Delhi: 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.