The ongoing monsoon session of the Indian Parliament entered its second week on Monday. Both the houses met on September 14 for their session after being adjourned in March, due to the corona virus pandemic. However, on September 20, the Rajya Sabha witnessed a very reckless reaction from the opposition party members where they snatched and threw papers from the table and even broke the chairperson’s mic.
This dramatic reaction of the opposition party MPs was because of the disagreement over the debatable ‘agriculture bills’, claiming that the deputy chairman was violating rules to help the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in passing the bills against majority of the house.
Proceedings in Rajya Sabha on Monday were disrupted several times, before it was finally adjourned for the day, amid strong protests over the suspension of eight opposition MPs for their “unruly behavior” during the passage of the farm bills on Sunday.
The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection)) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, the two bills which has been the topic of disagreement in the Upper House, seeks to replace the two ordinances promulgated on June 5 this year and which were already cleared by the Lok Sabha, were passed by voice vote in the Upper House.
Eight opposition members have been suspended from the Rajya Sabha for one week for misbehaving on Sunday during the discussion on the bills. This happened after Parliamentary Affairs Minister V Muraleedharan moved notice seeking suspension of unruly MPs for the rest of the session, which was then carried by voice note.
“Derek O’Brien, Sanjay Singh, Rajiv Satav, KK Ragesh, Ripun Bora, Dola Sen, Syed Nazir Hussain and Elamaram Karim suspended for one week for unruly behavior with the chair,” Rajya Sabha Chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu said on Monday. He also rejected the no-confidence motion against his deputy, Harivansh Narayan Singh, on the grounds that proper procedure was not followed and that a 14-day notice was required to do the same.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, along with five other Union Ministers- Piyush Goyal, Prakash Javadekar, Thawarchand Gehlot, Prahlad Joshi and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, addressed a press conference, condemning the behavior of the opposition MPs towards the Deputy Chairperson Harivansh Narayan Singh. Rajnath Singh called the behavior in the Upper House as ‘unfortunate’ and ‘shameful’.
“I was deeply pained by what happened yesterday. All social distancing and Covid-19 protocols were violated. Whatever happened, defied logic. It was a bad day for the Rajya Sabha. The deputy chairman was physically threatened. I was worried for his physical well-being”, said Naidu, condemning Sunday’s incident.
“You have no right to obstruct the chair and the business in the House. It tarnishes the image of the House. Is it a Parliamentary standard? I suggest the members to do some introspection. If the marshals were not called on time, what would have happened?” he added.
The Chair assured the protesting members that the Leader of Opposition, Ghulam Nabi Azad, will be allowed to speak only once the suspended members leave and order is resumed in the House. The opposition then demanded the resolution to suspend the eight members to be put through division voting process, and not through voice vote. The presiding officers, however, said they had missed the window for demanding division voting, in which the members can vote through either the electronic voting system or through voting slips, and each members vote is known.
While the opposition kept protesting and demanding that the Bills be sent to a Select Committee against the alleged undemocratic nature in which the Parliament is acting, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar continued to respond to the debate after the proceedings were extended beyond 1 pm by member’s nod, sought by Deputy Chairperson Harish.