RS adjourns record 11 times
New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday witnessed an unprecedented state of affairs as it was adjourned 11 times, as the opposition and the government clashed over technicalities of the passage of an anti-graft amendment bill with the latter insisting that it should be adopted without debate.
While the House was first adjourned till 2 pm within 20 minutes after it met at 11 am due to opposition protests, it saw ten adjournments in a row within three hours, after it re-convened in the afternoon.
When the House met at 2 pm, members of Congress, AIADMK, BSP, CPI-M, AAP, TDP and YSR were in the Well holding placards and shouting slogans -- "Narendra Modi - Dalit Virodhi" (Narendra Modi is anti-Dalit) and "Dalit virodhi yeh sarkar, nahi chalegi" (this anti-Dalit government will not be tolerated).
Amid the din, the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill 2013 was taken up for consideration and passage by Deputy Chairman P J Kurien, who asked Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Jitendra Singh to move the bill for consideration, saying he would proceed with it as no member has given their name for the debate on it.
The bill aims to make giving a bribe a specific offence like taking a bribe and seeks to modify the definitions and penalties for such offences, among other things.
When the Minister said the bill should just be passed without debate, Kurien asked TMC member Sukhendu Shekhar Ray, who had moved amendments to it, whether he would seek a division to enable voting on his amendments.
As Ray insisted on a division, Kurien said the division cannot be taken up as the House is not in order.
Congress Deputy Leader Anand Sharma then raised a point of order saying the new members, who took oath over the past few days, had not been given division numbers which enables them to exercise their voting right. He said in such a situation, the bill cannot be passed.
But Kurien said "this bill is important. If it is not passed, it will have impact on all government programmes. This bill is in the interest of the country. Therefore, the bill has to be passed" and urged the protesting members to go back to their seats.
The Opposition wants discussion and the government is ready for it, he said and asked the protesting members to take the opportunity to prove their majority at the time of voting.
However, as the exchanges as well as the noisy protests from the Well continued, Kurien adjourned the House briefly.
Following this, he held a series of backroom negotiations by leaders of major parties. The House saw repeated adjournments as the discussions in the Chair's chamber continued.
When the House resumed after a couple of adjournments, Ray again insisted on a division, as other opposition members continued to raise slogans from the Well.
In the melee, Minister Jitendra Singh sought the passage of the bill without debate. "Pass it without the debate by a voice vote as per the sense of the nation," he said.
Singh also said the government has zero tolerance over corruption. "Those watching today's proceedings will know who is preventing the bill."
"The bill has gone through the standing committee and time and again it has been discussed over the last four years," he said.
Referring to Anand Sharma's point that new members had not been allotted division numbers, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said "Let us give you (new members) a slip. You can write yes or no. Already the bill has been moved for consideration. I request you to take this bill forward. We have to pass with voice vote."
Meanwhile, Amid continued disruptions in Parliament, leaders of over a dozen opposition parties on Thursday appealed to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu for holding discussion on key matters like the
SC/ST Act, PNB bank fraud, CBSE paper leak and Cauvery issue.
As both Houses of Parliament were disrupted for the 20th day, opposition leaders, including from the Congress, BSP, SP, DMK, NCP, TMC and the Left parties, met in Parliament to discuss the lack of debate.
Alleging that their voice was being suppressed in the House, the leaders said they want bills to be passed in Parliament, but demanded discussion on the issues of national importance first.