The Winter Session of Parliament began on Monday, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the Rajya Sabha and saying that Upper House of the Parliament represents diversity and the importance of the country's federal structure.
Modi said the Upper House of Parliament was essential for checks and balance in democracy, but a distinction needs to be drawn between checking and clogging.
Modi lauds NCP, BJD
Speaking on the occasion of the landmark 250th session of Rajya Sabha, he lauded Sharad Pawar's NCP and the Biju Janata Dal for never rushing to the Well of the House to raise their issues and yet raising their points effectively.
"The Rajya Sabha is about checks and balances. This is absolutely essential for our democracy. Debates have to be many and effective. But, there is also a difference between checking and clogging (and between) balance and blocking," he said.
With some within the ruling party questioning the effectiveness of Rajya Sabha as crucial legislative work got stalled because NDA lacked majority in the House, Modi recalled the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's words that the Rajya Sabha "may be the second House but no one should think of it as a secondary house."
Earlier, in a departure from convention, the Rajya Sabha allowed leaders of various political parties to speak and pay tributes to five late members, including former finance minister Arun Jaitley, instead of just the Chairman making obituary references.
In his obituary reference, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu described Jaitley as a "quintessential politician" and a "man of impeccable integrity" whose stellar contribution is a matter of record.
Jaitley, he said, left an inedible mark on all ministries he headed and was the force behind many landmark legislations including the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, Benami Act and the merger of Rail Budget with General Budget.
Naidu also mentioned passing away of Ram Jethmalani on 8 September at the age of 95 as well as former member Jagannath Mishra (82) on 19 August, Sukhdev Singh Libra (86) on 6 September and Gurudas Dasgupta (82) on 31 October.
Lok Sabha proceedings begin on stormy note
Soon after oath-taking of four members and paying condolences to members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha who died in recent months, Opposition members sought to raise various issues in the Lok Sabha.
Within minutes of commencement of the Question Hour, around 30 members from the Congress trooped into the Well, shouting slogans and demanding that the government stop attacking the Opposition as well as foisting false cases.
The members along with those from the National Conference also raised the issue of detention of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah. Members of the Shiv Sena, one of the oldest allies of the BJP which has snapped its ties with the ruling party, also raised slogans and demanded relief for farmers. Later, they walked out of the House.
In the wake of differences over formation of government in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena parted ways with the BJP last week. On Monday, DMK members were also seen standing at their seats. Speaker Om Birla told agitating members that they would be given an opportunity to raise issues within rules after the Question Hour. "I am ready to discuss all issues. Please go to your seats... This House is not for sloganeering but for debates and discussions," Birla said.
Despite the ruckus, seven questions and related supplementaries were taken up during the Question Hour. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi sought to pacify protesting members, saying the government was ready for any discussion. "Let the Speaker decide and (there can be) discussion under rules," Joshi said and stressed that Question Hour is the right of every member amid vociferous protests.
A war of words also broke out when BJP member Locket Chatterjee alleged that the "entire TMC is involved in chit fund irregularities, duping gullible investors of their hard-earned money". Without naming TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, she alleged that the West Bengal chief minister was protecting those who had run away with poor people's money.
Chatterjee also alleged that 40 percent of the money collected by the various chit funds in West Bengal had gone to agents who were members of the TMC.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Nov 18, 2019 23:26:58 IST