It was an uneventful day in terms of the passage of bills or discussions in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on the sixth day of the Winter Session of Parliament on Monday. The issue of the ongoing political crisis in Maharashtra with the swearing-in of a BJP-led government gave MPs a chance to halt all work. The fallout of the unprecedented swearing-in of Devendra Fadnavis as chief minister reverberated not only inside the Parliament but outside too as Congress MPs held a protest outside holding placards calling the move a "murder of democracy" and raising slogans in the House like: 'Samvidhan ki Hatya Bandh Karo'.
Delhi: Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi leads party's protest in Parliament premises over Maharashtra government formation issue. pic.twitter.com/B98L3uHqq0
— ANI (@ANI) November 25, 2019
Chaos ensued in the Lower House with Speaker Om Birla suspending Congress MPs Hibi Eden and TN Prathapan for storming the Well of the House and obstructing Parliament proceedings by shouting slogans to protest against the Maharashtra government. Congress leaders were seen carrying placards with messages like "save Constitution" and "save democracy" and a black banner which said "stop the murder of democracy", and jostling with the marshals. According to sources, the suspension of the two MPs was "imminent" as Birla was "upset" with their refusal to apologise for their conduct.
But Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman did manage to introduce the Taxation Law (Amendment) Bill in Lok Sabha, which seeks to cut corporate tax rate. She also introduced the International Financial Services Centre Authority Bill amid sloganeering by opposition members over the issue of government formation in Maharashtra. The bill seeks to provide for a unified financial regulator for IFSCs.
Both Houses of the Parliament adjourned within minutes after re-assembling after the lunch break as the Congress and other Opposition parties continued to stall the functioning of the Houses over developments in Maharashtra. Both Houses were adjourned till 2 pm on Tuesday and a special joint sitting it slated to be held tomorrow to mark the occasion of Constitution Day.
RS adjourns early as Opposition stall functioning
As soon as the Upper House met at 2 pm, the Congress, Left, DMK and other Opposition parties were on their feet demanding a discussion on the events in Maharashtra. Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh said discussion on the matter cannot be taken up as the matter was subjudice.
Citing Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu's statement earlier in the day, he said the House can discuss President's Rule being imposed or revoked in a state only when a motion to that effect is brought before it.
Congress members said that if the matter was subjudice why was the minister allowed to speak on the matter in the House. Naidu had earlier rejected notices by Opposition members under Rule 267 seeking setting aside of the business to take up the issue and adjourned the House till 2 pm.
Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi in the morning session had said that the governor's decision can be discussed only through a substantive motion and no such motion has been brought by the Opposition.
He had alleged that the Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP were trying to "hijack" democracy in Maharashtra through "jugaad" and that NCP supremo Sharad Pawar risks getting run out on a slippery pitch.
Amid the din, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur introduced a proposal to withdraw the International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill, 2019, which was approved by the House.
Congress alleges 'manhandling' of women parliamentarian in LS
Congress members jostled with the marshals in the Lok Sabha when they stormed the Well of the House carrying placards, leading to adjournment of Parliament proceedings. Congress MP from Tamil Nadu Jothimani alleged that she was "manhandled". "It is sad that Ramya Haridas and I were manhandled, we have lodged a complaint with the Speaker," she told reporters.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury also said that what he saw in the House was unprecedented and Congress MPs were "pushed around". "It is a testing time for us. We have to decide whether we let democracy or authoritarianism prevail in this country," he said.
Sources said Birla sought an apology from two Kerala MPs — PN Prathapan and MP Hibi Eden — for storming the Well of the House.
The Maharashtra government formation issue rocked the Lok Sabha on Monday, with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi saying democracy was "murdered" in the state. Leading the Opposition charge against the Centre over Maharashtra government formation, Rahul began to ask the first question in the Lok Sabha during Question Hour, but said: " I wanted to ask a question in the House but it doesn't make any sense to ask a question right now as democracy has been murdered."
BJP slam Congress MPs of 'unruly' behaviour
The BJP hit back at Congress members, slamming them of "unruly" conduct and blamed them of bringing "shame" to Lok Sabha after MPs of the opposition party jostled with marshals, following the speaker's decision to evict two of them from the House. Speaking to reporters, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad appealed to all parties to maintain the sanctity and great traditions of Lok Sabha, asserting that Parliament cannot be allowed to become a place for "unruly" behaviour.
He was joined by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi and Arjun Ram Meghwal, Joshi's deputy, and also rejected the Congress' claim that the marshals misbehaved with its woman MPs in the House, saying "everybody saw what happened". "We outright condemn the reprehensible conduct of these MPs," Prasad said and also criticised senior Congress leaders who did "nothing" to prevent them.
"These members have shamed Lok Sabha in front of the country," he said. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul were in the Lok Sabha during the incident. Prasad said the speaker repeatedly appealed to Congress members to remove a banner they held across the Well and tried to stop others from asking questions when the House convened for the Question Hour. "The way they behaved, the way they treated the marshals is the height of indiscipline," he said.
RS marshals shed military-style uniform for in Indian attire
Meanwhile, as chaos erupted in the Parliament, another controversy spun over Rajya Sabha marshal's attire. One week after their military-style uniforms created a controversy, Rajya Sabha marshals on Monday were again back in traditional Indian attire but without the 'pagri'. The two marshals, who flank the chair, came to the House wearing dark coloured Indian bandhgalas, a dress that a Congress member remarked was "very smart."
The marshals were seen in military-style outfits with caps in place of traditional Indian attire comprising turbans when the Rajya Sabha's landmark 250th session opened last Monday.
While the dress code of the marshals had changed, the uniform of nearly a dozen ushers who stand at the back of each row to fetch papers and assist MPs had remained unchanged. They had continued to don Indian attire with a pointed pagri or headgear. The uniform of ushers remained unchanged on Monday.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Nov 25, 2019 15:34:49 IST