Cong MPs' protest over Uttarakhand, disrupts RS proceedings

PTI4_25_2016_000152A Members protest in the well of Rajya Sabha in New Delhi on Monday | PTI Photo / TV GRAB

Slogan-shouting Congress members on Tuesday forced the adjournment of Rajya Sabha till noon after the government rejected their demand for a discussion on a motion on dismissal of the party's government there.

Congress members trooped into the Well of the House raising slogans against the Government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi after Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said no discussion other than on proclamation of President Rule in Uttarakhand can take place.

Justifying imposition of central rule in the state, Jaitley said the "real breakdown of constitutional machinery" happened in Uttarakhand when the presiding officer (Speaker) "ignored" the vote of 35 out of 67 members against the appropriation bill to declare it passed.

Deputy Chairman P. J. Kurien's pleading that the Chair was in favour of a discussion and the protestors should allow the House to function went unheeded, forcing him to adjourn the proceedings till 1200 hours.

Congress leaders Anand Sharma and Pramod Tiwari gave notices under rule 267 seeking suspension of business to take up discussion on use of Article 356 by the Centre to dismiss a democractically elected government in Uttrakhand.

While Naresh Agrawal (SP) too gave notice under same rule for discussion on the issue, Mayawati (BSP) supported the demand for suspension of business to take up the debate.

Jaitley said it had never happened in the history of independent India that a presiding officer of a state assembly has converted majority into minority and vice versa.

"This is the real breakdown of constitutional machinery," he said.

He said 35 out of the 67 members in Uttrakhand assembly voted against the appropriation bill but the presiding officer came to conclusion that the bill has been passed. "That is breakdown of constitutional machinery."

The Minister said discussion will take place when the proclamation for President's Rule is placed before the House. "There is no procedure of having pre-proclamation discussion," he said.

Earlier, Anand Sharma (Cong) said he had given a notice under rule 267 for suspension of business to discuss and pass a resolution brought by his party on the destabilisation of a democratically-elected government by the Centre through gross "misuse and abuse of power."

He said rule 267 as well as rule 176 for short duration discussion do not provide any condition for initiating a debate on any issue and there have been umpteen number of precedents when sub-judice matter have been debated in the House.

"This government cannot hide under rules to cover what they have done in Uttarakhand," he said. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi asked if the Congress party actually wanted a discussion or was looking at disrupting proceedings.

Naresh Agrawal (SP) said he too did not agree with the government's contention that sub-judice matters cannot be discussed and said the Chair should take the opinion of the House on initiating a discussion under rule 267.

Pramod Tiwari (Cong) said Constitution has been "murdered" in Uttarakhand and "we condemn" the government's action.

Mayawati (BSP) said parties in power have misused Article 356 of the Constitution to dismiss opposition-ruled state governments for political reasons and sought a discussion on the issue.

After Jaitley said no discussion can take place before the proclamation is placed before the House, Congress members trooped into the Well raising anti-government slogans.

"Modi teri taanashahi nahi chalegi, nahi chalegi (dictatorship of Narendra Modi will not be tolerated)," they shouted.

Deputy Chairman Kurien asked shouting members to return to their seats and allow a discussion. "Chair is not against discussion. Chair is in favour of discussion. You are not allowing discussion," he said.

As the members remained unrelenting, he adjourned the House till 1200 hours.

Similar scenes continued when the House reassembled.

Chairman Hamid Ansari took up the Question Hour but as the slogan-shouting by Congress members in the Well continued unabated, he adjourned the House for 30 minutes.

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