Winter Session of Parliament: Rajya Sabha sees frequent adjournments over Sharad Yadav's expulsion, Modi's remark against Manmohan

Day one of the Winter Session of Parliament started in a stormy manner on Friday, with the Opposition forcing two quick adjournments in Rajya Sabha. As Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu began the session in the Upper House, Opposition parties created a ruckus over former JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav's expulsion from the House and demanded a clarification from the Chair. Naidu told Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad that the Chair's decisions were not up for scrutiny by members of the House.

The House was first adjourned for 20 minutes till noon and again till 2.30 pm, after which it reassembled, with members of the Congress and Samajwadi Party storming the Well and raising slogans opposing the disqualification of Yadav and Ali Anwar Ansari.

When the House reassembled after the first adjournment at noon, Congress members protested against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks against his predecessor Manmohan Singh.

Earlier, Naidu led the House in paying tributes to ten former members who passed away during the inter-session period. Thereafter, Modi introduced new ministers to the House, following which Zero Hour mentions were taken up.

At that point, Naresh Agarwal of Samajwadi Party raised a point of order regarding disqualification of two former JD(U) members. However, Naidu did not agree with him, saying there is no "point .. in your point of order". He also said the matter was cannot be discussed as it was a decision of the Chair.

Joining the issue, Azad said the Opposition was not challenging the decision taken by the Chair and wanted to say something more, but Naidu repeated that it was not a matter of discussion. Referring to a political rally of the now defunct 'Mahagathbandhan' between JD(U), Congress and Lalu Prasad Yadav-led RJD, Azad said votes during the Bihar Assembly elections were sought in the name of the grand alliance by projecting Nitish Kumar as the chief minister.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad.

The senior Congress member said it was Nitish who had left the alliance in Bihar, and the JD(U) members in the House should accordingly resign. "Membership of JD(U) members should be cancelled," Azad stressed.

Several Opposition members from Congress, SP and the Left parties were seen on their feet. Anand Sharma of the Congress tried to say something but could not be heard.

When Naidu asked A Navaneetha Krishnan of AIADMK to go ahead with his 'Zero Hour' mention regarding cyclone in Tamil Nadu, Congress and SP members trooped into the Well raising slogans. Naidu asked them to return to their seats but they continued raising slogans. "You want to do like this on the first day...All in Well not well...," he said, and adjourned the House till noon.

Don't say 'beg', Naidu tells MPs

Naidu also brought about minor changes to 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. No one should use the word "I beg to" while laying papers on the table, he said. "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 ministers who were 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.

This was not only the change that Naidu introduced: He also stood up while reading out obituary references; his predecessors Hamid Ansari and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat used to read the obituary references while being seated.

Lok Sabha adjourned

The proceedings of the Lok Sabha, meanwhile, were adjourned after the House paid tributes to three sitting and seven former members who died during the inter-session period. The House will now meet on Monday.

As soon as the House assembled, newly-elected Congress member from Gurdaspur Sunil Kumar Jakhar was administered the oath, which he took in Punjabi.

Modi greeted Jakhar with a handshake when the former greeted him with folded hands after taking oath. The Gurdaspur bypoll was necessitated following the demise of BJP member and cine star Vinod Khanna. After the oath of the new member, Modi introduced new ministers to the House. These included Dharmendra Pradhan, Piyush Goyal and Nirmala Sitharaman who were elevated as Cabinet ministers in the 3 September rejig of the council of ministers.

The new faces are ministers of state (independent charge) RK Singh, Hardeep Puri, KJ Alphonse and ministers of state Shiv Pratap Shukla, Virendra Kumar, Ananth Hegde, Gajendra Shekhawat and Satyapal Singh.

Making obituary references, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan informed members that three sitting Lok Sabha MPs — Sultan Ahmed (TMC), Chand Nath (BJP) and Tasleem Uddin (RJD) — had passed away recently. Seven other former members — Vikram Mahajan, Ram Singh, R Keishing, P C Barman, Dhanraj Singh, Amal Datta and Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi — also died during the inter-session period.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the Upper House on Friday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the Upper House on Friday.

The House was also introduced to the new secretary general, Snehlata Shrivastava, who took over on 1 December. A former IAS officer, she is the first woman secretary general of the Lok Sabha. Before proceedings began, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met leaders of various parties.

When Modi entered the House, he greeted members from the Opposition benches with a "namaste" by bowing his head.

Hope for productive Winter Session: Modi

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.

The government is expected to table 25 pending bills and 14 new ones, including a bill providing Muslim women the right to seek maintenance in case of triple talaq.

"The Winter Session of Parliament is starting and I am confident that it will be a productive session. I hope there is good debate, constructive debate and we come up with innovative solutions to our nation's problems," he said.

At Thursday's all-party meeting, the prime minister said that leaders of all political parties were clear that there is a need to take the country forward and this session should be used positively to achieve that.

"I hope this Parliament session contributes to the nation's growth. There will be proper utilisation of the time of Parliament which will be beneficial to the country," he said.

Modi said there will be several significant government businesses which will have far reaching impact for the country.

The prime minister hoped Parliament will function "positively" which will be beneficial to the country, strengthen democracy and help in fulfilling hopes and aspirations of common people.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Dec 15, 2017 13:15 PM

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