Debates on a range of issues like mob lynchings across India, the ongoing Sikkim border dispute with China and issues related to the farmers' protests saw the end of the fourth day of the Monsoon Session of Parliament.
The BJP-led central government planned 34 bills to be tabled during the Monsoon Session, which would have about 20 sittings. According to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, apart from 16 new bills, 21 bills are pending in Lok Sabha while 42 bills are pending in Rajya Sabha, many of which would be considered for passing during the session.
However, with Tuesday being a near washout and Thursday's proceedings being even more turbulent than Wednesday's session, the government was left hard-pressed to push its agenda.
Here are some of the key developments that took place on the fourth day of the Monsoon Session:
Lok Sabha prematurely adjourned
Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day after the Opposition repeatedly disrupted the proceedings by raising slogans on the plight of farmers. The adjournment for the day was announced by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan soon after the House resumed business at noon for the Zero Hour after two consecutive adjournments forced by the Opposition members who stormed the Well and raised slogans.
When House assembled for the day and took up the Question Hour, Opposition members, mostly from the Congress, trooped into the Well, raising slogans saying the prime minister should respond to the concerns over farmers' plight and the agrarian crisis. Kumar said the Lok Sabha had concluded a discussion on the issue on a sitting late Wednesday night. But as the slogan-shouting continued, the Speaker was forced to adjourn the house till 11.30 am, just after it had assembled again at 11 am.
When the House resumed business at 11.30 am, members of the Congress, TMC, Left and other parties again trooped into the Well and started raising slogans pressing for their demands. As the unruly scenes continued, the Speaker appealed to the protesters to return to their seats and then adjourned the House till noon.
Sensing the Opposition mood and as it became difficult to continue the business of the House amid the noisy scenes, the Speaker called for the listed papers to be tabled and then adjourned the House for the day.
India-China border row raised in Rajya Sabha
Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Thursday responded to Opposition's charges on the ongoing Sikkim border dispute with China near the Doka La region and said that India was capable of defending itself. Observing that China was demanding the withdrawal of the Indian troops from the tri-junction point, Swaraj said India has been saying that both countries would have to withdraw their armies before resolving the dispute through talks. Responding to supplementary questions during Question Hour in Rajya Sabha, Swaraj said, "Their (China's) intention was to reach the tri-junction so that they can unilaterally end the status of the tri-junction. It was only then that India came into the picture.
The Union minister also tried to dispel "doubts" raised over the ongoing stalemate on the eastern borders of India. Responding to a question on India-China ties, Swaraj said, "It's wrong to say that China is encircling India in the Indian Ocean region. India is vigilant of its security interests, and no one can encircle it."
Opposition targets government over lynchings, stages walkout
The Opposition targeted the government over the mob lynching incidents, with the Congress accusing Narendra Modi of "creating such an environment" and indulging in "double speak" on the issue.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal, while speaking in the Rajya Sabha, alleged that the prime minister was doing nothing to restrain cow vigilantes who, he said, include elements from the VHP and the Bajrang Dal. He was participating in a discussion on the "situation arising out of the reported increase in the incidents of lynching and atrocities on minorities and Dalits across the country" which started on Wednesday.
"Why doesn't he (Modi) say that VHP and Bajrang Dal were anti-social elements? He gets political support for elections. Hindutva ideology has created a reign of terror," Sibal added. Raising a point of order, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi objected to mention of VHP and Bajrang Dal, saying it is the practice not to mention those who are absent from the floor of the House and cannot defend themselves.
Shiromani Akali Dal leader Naresh Gujral, while participating in the debate, said the government could talk to the Chief Justice of India for creating a special court for speedy trial of lynching cases, which amounted to acts like "terrorism".
Attacking the government, Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said the incidents of lynching were more deadly than killings by Taliban, adding that, “When religion overtakes politics or vice versa, internal conflicts are created.” He also said that BJP-ruled states were witnessing maximum cases of lynching. Such incidents occurred in 14 districts of Jharkhand, 11 districts of Uttar Pradesh, nine districts of Haryana, five districts of Rajasthan and four districts each of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat, Yadav added.
The arguments devolved to a blame game, which culminated to the Opposition walking out of Rajya Sabha. Union minister Prakash Javadekar accused the Opposition of suffering from "selective amnesia" on lynching cases which triggered the walkout.
To this heated argument, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government will show no sympathy to those lynching people in the name of cow protection. "Nobody has the right to take law in his hands. And if somebody does, he should be condemned, arrested, and prosecuted. The government's stand is very clear — nobody is allowed to do that," Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha.
Hamid Ansari accepts Mayawati's resignation
BSP supremo Mayawati's resignation from the Rajya Sabha was accepted on Thursday by Chairman Hamid Ansari, a senior official of the Upper House said.
The 61-year-old had submitted a fresh resignation letter as per the prescribed format, tendering a hand-written one-line letter, he said, wishing not to be named as he was not authorised to comment. Mayawati had, on Wednesday, resigned from the House, accusing the BJP and the Chair of not allowing her to raise the issue of Dalit violence in Uttar Pradesh in the House.
On Wednesday, several key issues, including the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the status of missing Indian citizens in Mosul and the India-China border row in Sikkim were raised in Parliament. Proceedings in both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha were, once again, disrupted multiple times after MPs protested against the agrarian crisis, cow vigilantism and Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal's comments linking Hindu gods with brands of alcohol.
The BJP and Congress also exchanged blows over a dossier prepared by the research department of the All-India Congress Committee. It was leaked on Wednesday morning and listed several issues on which it could corner the government during the Monsoon Session. The 'key issues to raise in Parliament' section put "mob violence and lynching — from Akhlaq to Junaid" topmost on the agenda. The Congress raised the issue of lynching on Wednesday. However, proceedings began with the agrarian crisis.
The government also said it was "proactively" considering the matter of the country having two separate time zones. The issue was raised in the Lok Sabha by Biju Janata Dal (BJD) member B Mahtab, who stated that there was a gap of nearly two hours in the sunrise timings between the eastern and the western parts of the country.
However, amid all the ruckus, the Lok Sabha also cleared the IIIT (Public-Private Partnership) Bill, 2017. The bill seeks to grant statutory status to the institutions. The IIITs will hence be able to grant degrees to their students in the academic courses conducted by them.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Jul 20, 2017 09:41 am | Updated Date: Jul 20, 2017 09:17 pm