New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Tuesday saw continued protests and sloganeering by Congress members demanding resignation of three BJP leaders and that a discussion on the Lalit Modi issue should be as an adjournment motion. An exasperated Speaker Sumitra Mahajan termed the unruly scenes as "murder of democracy".
The lower house saw noisy scenes till its adjournment for the day in the post-lunch session with members from the treasury benches also intermittently raising slogans against Congress leaders. A member from the opposition benches tore up a paper near the Speaker's podium and BJP members sought to block Congress members from coming near the treasury benches with their placards.
The speaker, who said she was "pained" over the scenes in the house, asked Lok Sabha TV to show the protests so that people can see the scenario for themselves. Members of the Congress and some other opposition parties strongly protested when Arjun Ram Meghwal of the Bharatiya Janata Party sought to begin discussion on "matters arising out of Indian Premier League controversy and other related issues" under rule 193 which does not entail voting.
Sumitra Mahajan. Pic/ PTI
The Congress and some parties are demanding the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over their alleged help to former IPL chief Lalit Modi, and of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Vyapam scam. Lalit Modi is facing an Enforcement Directorate investigation.
The Congress demanded an adjournment motion on the issue but the Speaker did not accept it. "We are prepared for discussion under the adjournment motion rule. But they want to dilute it by bringing rule 193. Allow adjournment motion, let discussion take place, let there be voting," Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said.
Kharge also objected to a ruling party member beginning discussion under rule 193, saying the member had no grievance against the government. Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said the decision to not accept adjournment motion was taken by the chair and any member can seek discussion under rule 193.
"Bulldozing will not be allowed. The government is ready for discussion at any time. If they are not ready, it is their (opposition's) choice," he said. The house saw its first adjournment in the post-lunch session over the tussle between the government and the opposition over discussion on the IPL issue.
As Deputy Speaker M. Thambi Durai read out the Speaker's ruling and Meghwal started making his speech, Congress members loudly raised slogans. One of the members near the podium tore up a paper, compelling the chair to declare immediate adjournment of the house.
When the house reassembled, union minister Uma Bharti signalled BJP members to come near the podium but they were sent back by Sushma Swaraj. However, BJP members later came near the podium to block the Congress members who were spreading out in front of the treasury benches with their placards.
Congress members have protested in this manner many times in the recent past. The BJP members moved back to their seats after Uma Bharti spoke and condemned the behavior of protesting Congress members.
The Congress later formally complained to the speaker against "elbowing" of its members Gaurav Gogoi and Ravneet Singh Bittu by BJP members. With the Congress members continuing their vociferous protest, the speaker said: "This is not the way. I am seeing the behaviour of members. When the deputy speaker was in the chair, paper was thrown at him. This act is unpardonable. This is not the way. I am very pained today."
Earlier, when the house met in the morning, members of the Congress, Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal came near the speaker's podium, carrying placards regarding their demands and started shouting slogans. It continued throughout question hour, with the speaker making it clear that she will not adjourn the house.
She repeatedly asked members to take their seats. "A wrong message is going to the country. You are giving a wrong message. About 40-50 members are snatching away the right of 440 members. Go to your seats," Mahajan said. "This is not the way. This is murder of democracy. This is not democracy. Please show it (on LS TV) so that the entire country sees 40-50 members are disrupting proceedings," she said.
But the Congress and some other opposition parties continued their protest, while the Samajwadi Party members demanded that the government release the caste census.