The first day of the Winter Session of Parliament was marred by protests by Opposition demanding an explanation and apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his "conspiracy with Pakistan" remark involving his predecessor Manmohan Singh.
The protests and the uproar that followed led to quick adjournments of the Rajya Sabha. While it saw an adjournment for 20 minutes till noon in the beginning after Opposition uproar over disqualification of rebel JD(U) leaders Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar Ansari, the second one was over the prime minister's remarks.
After a third adjournment amid the chaos by Opposition, Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien adjourned the Upper House till 18 December.
Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha was adjourned on Friday after tributes were paid to late Trinamool Congress MP Sultan Ahmed, BJP MP Chand Nath and RJD MP Mohammed Taslimuddin. The Lower House will reconvene at 11 am on 18 December.
Before the adjournment, newly-elected Congress member from Gurdaspur Sunil Kumar Jakhar was administered the oath and Modi greeted him with folded hands. The prime minister also introduced new ministers to the House, including Piyush Goyal and Nirmala Sitharaman.
Before the proceedings began, Modi said he hoped the Winter Session of Parliament will be a productive one with constructive debates and innovative suggestions that will help resolve the country's problems.
Opposition creates ruckus in Rajya Sabha
Opposition leaders on Friday protested the rejection of their notice in the Rajya Sabha demanding an explanation and apology from Modi over his "conspiracy with Pakistan" remark involving his predecessor Manmohan Singh.
The leaders termed the comment "unfortunate" and told reporters outside the House that it was "disappointing" that Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu did not allow a discussion on the notice.
They also objected to the "illegal disqualification" of rebel Janata Dal (United) leaders Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar Ansari.
In place of Yadav and Ansari, Bihar chief minister and JD(U) president Nitish Kumar should be disqualified for breaking away from the grand alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress, they said.
"We gave a notice, but the chairman adjourned the House and did not let us raise the issue. We are disappointed. The chairman should have given us permission. This is a national... international issue," Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters.
Gave notice that today's business be suspended & a big issue that is not just national but international, be discussed. Issue is the allegations made by PM against former PM, former VP, Former Army Chief & others of conspiring with Pak for #GujaratElection: GN Azad #RajyaSabha pic.twitter.com/GEqdsn7mJx
— ANI (@ANI) December 15, 2017
At an election rally in Gujarat on Sunday, Modi had suggested that Pakistan was trying to influence the state Assembly polls.
He had claimed that some Pakistani officials and Manmohan Singh met at Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar's house over dinner on 6 December.
Azad said the prime minister should come to the Rajya Sabha and explain his remarks to its members.
His party colleague Anand Sharma, Naresh Agarwal of the Samajwadi Party and D Raja of the CPI said the people concerned should be punished if the allegations levelled by Modi were true. "But if it is false, if he levelled such a big allegation to polarise the people in view of the Gujarat polls, then he should apologise not only to the House but also to the people of the country," Azad said.
Raja said it was "not correct" on Modi's part to cast aspersions on Singh.
The CPI national secretary said Modi should have called up his predecessor if he had any information on the "conspiracy" issue.
"He should have done it, but the way he raised the issue in an election campaign... It is highly objectionable. It is not good for democracy," Raja said, asking the government to respect the Opposition.
Sharma said it was "undemocratic" that the Opposition's voice was being "muzzled".
He said the prime minister was "aware" of the notice and could have "used the opportunity to clarify his remarks, express regret and apologise".
"But the prime minister and the dispensation are arrogant and confrontational. And this is most unfortunate. This attitude does not augur well for democracy. It is an ominous development on the first day itself," Sharma said.
Amit Shah makes Rajya Sabha debut
BJP president Amit Shah made his Parliamentary debut, occupying a front row seat in the Rajya Sabha on the opening day of the winter session. Shah, who was elected to the Upper House of Parliament in August, walked in just minutes before the proceedings began.
Members of the treasury benches, including several ministers, stood up to welcome him. Some thumped desks and others clapped as a smiling Shah greeted them with folded hands.
He then went straight to his assigned seat in the front row.
Shah has been allocated the aisle seat right next to the two-seat block were Leader of the House and finance minister Arun Jaitley and Modi sit.
When Shah walked in, ministers including telecom minister Manoj Sinha, human resource and development minister Prakash Javedekar and information and broadcasting minister Smriti Irani thumped and clapped to welcome him.
After he was seated, some members walked up to him to greet him.
The seat allotted to Shah was previously occupied by M Venkaiah Naidu, who after being elected vice-president in August is now the Chairman of Rajya Sabha.
'We are a free nation': Venkaiah Naidu to ministers
Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu brought minor changes in the conduct of the Rajya Sabha on the first day after taking over as its Chairman, asking ministers and members not to use colonial terms while laying papers on the table.
Presiding over the Upper House proceedings on the opening day of the winter session of Parliament, Naidu said no one should use the word "I beg to" while laying papers on the table.
"Just say I raise to lay on the table" the listed papers, he said. "No need to beg... this is independent India." He made the observation after the ministers called to lay the listed papers on the table, began their sentences by saying "I beg to lay on the table the papers listed against my name in today's revised list of business."
Naidu was however quick to clarify that this was only a suggestion and not an order.
Crucial Winter Session
According to PRS Legislative, a New Delhi-based think tank, on agenda are some 40 bills focussing on areas such as overseas citizenship, consumer protection, rights of compensation for Mulsim divorced women, education, surrogacy, bankruptcy, corruption, and labour and transgender rights among others.
Of these, 25 bills are for consideration and passing, 14 Bills are listed for introduction, consideration, and passing, while one bill is listed for withdrawal, according to PRS.
The Winter Session will see some 19 amendment bills as part of the agenda. Some of these amendment bills such as the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 — makes prior sanction necessary to in order to investigate officials — and the Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015 — specifies grounds under which disclosures related to corruption may not be made — may attract a lot of flak from the anti-corruption brigade. Both the bills, have also been criticised for their half-hearted attempts to curb corruption.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Dec 15, 2017 16:21:59 IST