Rajya Sabha proceedings washed out amid protests over PNB scam, special status for Andhra Pradesh

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha proceedings were washed out for the seventh day on Tuesday as protests by members including those from NDA allies continued on various issues like the Rs 12,700 crore fraud in Punjab National Bank and special status demand for Andhra Pradesh.

The unabated protests had forced the adjournment of the House till 2 pm, about 15 minutes after it had assembled.

When it re-assembled at 2 pm, the protesting MPs, including those from the NDA partner TDP, trooped into the Well raising slogans and displaying placards.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien, who was in the Chair, tried to take up a calling attention motion on strategic storage of crude oil and petroleum products in the country and asked Chunibhai Kanjibhai Gohel of BJP to initiate the discussion.

However, the members in Well, including those from TDP who were demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh and AIADMK who were seeking immediate setting up of Cauvery River Management Board, continued to raise slogans and displaying placards. An anguished Kurien said "This is not fair".

"If this is the way MPs are behaving, I will adjourn the House. She (a TDP) member is showing a placard which is against the rule...this is misbehaviour. I don't agree with this....", he said before adjourning the proceedings for the day. Earlier the House was adjourned till 2 pm as unabated protests continued on issues such as the Punjab National Bank fraud, with the Trinamool Congress and other parties insisting that a discussion on the bank scam be held under a rule that entails voting.

When the House met at 11 am, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu appealed to members to allow the proceedings, but adjourned the proceedings the moment members from parties of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, TMC and Congress were on their feet.

The government, he said, has agreed for discussion on the issues being pressed by the Opposition, but the TMC and other parties wanted the debate under a rule that entails voting.

Naidu said discussions on India's biggest bank fraud and other issues have been permitted under rule 176 that provides for a member to give notice of a Short Duration Discussion for raising a matter of urgent public importance without the voting clause.

But Opposition parties wanted a discussion on the bank fraud issue under rule 168/169 that required voting on a resolution.

After congratulating Indian medal winners at Archery World Cup and ISSF World Shooting Championships, Naidu said it is against the rules to speak without permission of the Chair as well as making comments while being seated.

Seven days have been lost in Opposition protests, he said. "I make an earnest appeal to leaders of parties and members that House be allowed to function because people are being impatient and (adjournments and protests) show Parliament in poor light," Naidu said.

He said the protesting parties were also demanding discussions on Cauvery Water Management Board, special package for Andhra Pradesh and fraud at PNB.

"The government is agreeable to that and the Chair has also permitted," he said, adding "I don't find any reason for agitation."

He also urged the members not to bring banners and placards into the Well. "Please desist from displaying banners and placards in the House," he said.

The Chair, he said, is willing to allow discussion and made an appeal to allow the House to function. "Let us put an end to this... it is my earnest appeal.... Let the House function effectively. Let us raise the level of debate."

Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) said his party has given a notice for discussion on the PNB fraud issue under rule 168.

He said rule 169 of Rules of Procedures of Conduct of Rajya Sabha requires 15 conditions to be met for raising such a discussion and his notice meets all of them.

"If my motion is not accepted, principle of natural justice will be denied," Roy said.

But Naidu said a discussion can be allowed under rule 176, which was not acceptable to the Opposition members.

They soon started to rise from their places to protest and some MPs from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh began moving towards the Well, prompting Naidu to adjourn the proceedings till 2 pm.

Earlier, Naidu also asked members not to make comments while being seated. His remark was in reference to catcalls being made from treasury benches when he called P Chidambaram to lay on the table a Parliamentary Standing Committee report on Home Affairs.

As Chidambaram was absent, someone from the treasury benches remarked that he must be in prison. This led to forceful protests and comments from Opposition Congress side.

Naidu ruled that no comment made by either side would go on record. Chidambaram's son Karti is in judicial custody in an alleged bribery case.

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Updated Date: Mar 13, 2018 16:08:56 IST

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