Stormy start to Parl session; chaos over U’khand, Arunachal
Angry over the imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh, the Congress on Monday created ruckus in Parliament, accusing the Narendra Modi dispensation of toppling democratically-elected governments of Opposition parties, a charge rejected by Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
The issue generated heat in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on the opening day of the session with Congress members in both Houses storming the Well and party chief Sonia Gandhi joining them in raising slogans.
In the Lok Sabha, Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge and his party colleagues staged a dharna in the Well as their notice for adjournment motion on the issue was rejected by the Chair. “It is a murder of democracy,” Kharge said as the Lower House assembled for the day, telling Speaker Sumitra Mahajan that he has given a notice for an adjournment motion on the issue.
Members of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Aam Aadmi party (AAP) were also in the Well along with Congress. AAP leader Bhagwant Mann was repeatedly seen pleading with the Chair to allow Kharge to have his say.
Amid a noisy protest by the treasury benches, Kharge said the Union government was purchasing MLAs, pressurising them to install the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government “by killing Constitution.”
The Speaker reminded Kharge that the matter was before the Supreme Court and hence he should not say anything further. Kharge said he is referring to the action of the Central government and not the ruling of the Uttarakhand high court, which had revoked the President’s Rule. The Supreme Court later stayed the High Court’s order till April 27. He said the BJP-government at the Centre celebrates the Constitution Day and birthday of key architect of the document BR Ambedkar, while it has “destabilised” democratically- elected governments in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
“There appears to be a great hurry by the NDA to grab power in every state... don’t forget there is Constitution... you could have waited for the March 28 floor test but you imposed President’s Rule on March 27,” he said.
He said the House had recently discussed the Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter case which is also sub-judice.
BJD’s B Mahtab said his party has also given notice on the issue. “The matter is in the court. We will wait for the verdict. We are confident that the court will deliver justice. But we are against arbitrary use of Article 356,” he said.
The Home Minister said the “crisis” in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh has not been created by NDA or BJP.
“It is an internal crisis of their party,” he said and welcomed Speaker’s decision that the issue cannot be raised in the present format as it is under consideration of the apex court.
In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad raised the issue accusing the central government of “deliberately provoking” the opposition and “inducing” disruption so that the House does not run. Azad said for the last one year, it has been seen that efforts are being made by the ruling party to create a situation that the House does not function.
The senior Congress leader said he had never seen that a government “does things during the session or just days before the session so that Parliament does not function”.
He said during winter session, the duly-elected Arunachal Pradesh government was “brought down” and the Centre did not stop till it installed its own government there.
Azad said President’s rule has been imposed in the past also, but never in such a “crude” way.
When he said he wanted to congratulate the judges of the Uttarakhand High Court for “having the guts to fight the Government of India”, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said there should be “no commentary” on the judicial issues.
As Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi objected to the raising of the Uttrakhand issue saying the matter was sub-judice, Azad said the Centre “which disrespects the court, cannot be trusted”.
“Discussion will take place,” he asserted, as several Congress members carrying placards stood in the aisle.
Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) countered Naqvi saying Leader of the House Arun Jaitley had said in the last session that discussion on issues, even if sub-judice, cannot be prevented in the House. “Apply your own precedents,” he said.
Anand Sharma (Cong) said the Centre used proclamation of President’s rule to disturb an elected government. “We will discuss it. We will expose you,” he said.
Right then, Jaitley asked Congress members to debate the issue when the proclamation comes up for discussion.
“It will come up for discussion before the House. This will House will have an opportunity to discuss it. Therefore, when the proclamation comes up, please discuss it.
“But today, you cannot by an alternative motion anticipate a discussion which is to take place when the proclamation comes up. You cannot discuss it at the pre-proclamation stage,” Jaitley said.
However, Congress members did not relent and several of them trooped into the Well.