New Delhi: A vociferous Congress on Tuesday sought the expunction of remarks by Leader of Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley against the Uttarakhand Speaker while justifying the imposition of central rule in the state.
The opposition party members, who raised slogans and trooped into the Well at regular intervals disrupting proceedings, demanded expunction of Jaitley's remarks that the "real breakdown of constitutional machinery" had occurred when the presiding officer (Speaker) of the assembly "ignored" the vote of 35 out of 67 members against the appropriation bill to declare it passed.
They argued that the remark by Jaitley was akin to questioning the decision of the Speaker.
"The remarks are deplorable and should be expunged," Congress leader Anand Sharma said when the House reconvened at 2 pm after three adjournments earlier.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said he respected Jaitley a lot because he had always spoken for maintaining the dignity of the Speaker.
He also said that he and his party had always listened to Jaitley on the decision of the Speaker being supreme even when the opposition had earlier questioned the Lok Sabha Speaker's decision to bring in certain bills as money bills.
"He (Jaitley) has always said the Speaker's decision is final and cannot be challenged. But then he questions the decision of the Speaker of the (Uttarakhand) Assembly. We cannot accept two understandings," he said.
Azad said "a bad practice" was being set by questioning the ruling of the Speaker and imposing President's Rule.
Responding to Azad, Jaitley said when the proclamation for President's Rule is discussed in the House, the government will justify each clause and reason why it was imposed.
Hitting back, Jaitley asked how the Appropriation Bill was passed in the assembly and reiterated that 35 out of 67 legislators had written to the Governor saying they had voted against it.
"It was breakdown of constitutional machinery. A defeated Bill was shown as being passed," Jaitley asserted, adding that "it is for the first time in 70 years that a defeated government was allowed to continue".
Jaitley also accused the Congress of not waiting for the proclamation to be placed in the House for debate.
Azad immediately retorted to say that the NDA government had not even waited for "24 hours" before declaring President's Rule, even when the Governor had given time till 28 March to prove majority in the assembly following consultations between him, the Speaker and the government.
JD(U) leader K C Tyagi sought a detailed discussion on the anti-defection law and suggested that no defector should be made a minister for the next five years.
He said Congress had also used the President's Rule route many a times and now the BJP, which has also been a victim, was doing it.
Addressing Jaitley, Tyagi said, "you have always stood for morals and even went to jail as a youngster on moral grounds. But such things are being done even when you are around. We should all agree and have a discussion on the anti-defection law".
As Jaitley continued to defend government's stand on its Uttarakhand decision, Congress members trooped into the Well shouting slogans against the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien then adjourned the House till 3 pm.