Parliament proceedings washed out for third day in a row
By G Krishna Mohan Rao*
New Delhi: Proceedings were totally disrupted in both Houses of Parliament for the consecutive third day today since the resumption of the Budget session after the government and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) demanded an apology from Rahul Gandhi for “ tarnishing “ India’s image on foreign soil with his “democracy under attack” remark in Britain. Both the Houses were adjourned for the day amid continuous ruckus and slogan shouting by both the treasury benches and the Opposition parties over the issue.
The stalemate continued, with both treasury benches and the Opposition parties at daggers drawn on their respective issues. While the treasury benches led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Lok Sabha and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal as leader of the House in Rajya Sabha raised the Rahul Gandhi issue, the entire Opposition in both Houses demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Adani-Hinderberg row by raising slogans and holding placards.
In fact, today, the ruling BJP intensified its pressure on the Opposition, with slogans demanding an apology from Rahul Gandhi. Even as the Speaker of Lok Sabha and the Chairman of Rajya Sabha repeatedly tried to bring the Houses in order by urging the members to allow House proceedings, both sides refused to budge from their respective stands leading to the adjournments of both the Houses to 2 pm and later for the day.
Opposition leaders march to the ED office
On the other side, when both the Houses got adjourned, the leaders of several opposition parties took out a protest march from Parliament House to the Enforcement Directorate’s office here and handed over a complaint to the probe agency on the Adani issue. MPs belonging to 18 opposition parties signed the memorandum to be submitted to the ED. However, their attempt to go to ED’s office was stopped by the police at nearby Vijay Chowk as they were not allowed to proceed any further. As a result, the Opposition MPs returned to the Parliament complex.
Later speaking to reporters, Congress president and leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said that police did not allow the MPs of 18 opposition parties to proceed any further in their march to the ED office to submit a complaint to the Central agency demanding a thorough probe into the Adani issue. However, according to the police, the march by Opposition MPs was stopped as prohibitory orders under section 144 which was imposed in the area.
Several Congress leaders openly accused the MPs of the ruling BJP of disrupting the proceedings of the Parliament “just to protect the Adanis”.
“The ruling party has made anarchy out of democracy. How come MPs like Smriti Irani of the BJP can disrupt the proceedings of the Parliament?” Congress MPs asked. Referring to Rahul Gandhi’s speech in Britain regarding Indian democracy, the Congress MPs said that it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who insulted the country with his speech in China. The Congress MPs also cited instances where Prime Minister Modi raised issues of internal politics in foreign countries.
Many opposition leaders expressed dismay at the Government choosing the path of confrontation by targeting Rahul Gandhi instead of trying to find a way out of the deadlock. The perception among Opposition MPs is that the BJP has built up a false case against Rahul accusing him of denigrating India to divert the nation from the Adani controversy.
The dominant view in the Opposition is that yielding at this stage would amount to letting Prime Minister Modi off the hook despite serious evidence of wrongdoing to favour and shield his friend and business tycoon Gautam Adani. Most of the 18 Opposition party MPs want to intensify the protests.
Earlier in the day the party leaders of various parties met in the office of the Leader of the Opposition, Kharge, in the Parliament complex to chalk out their joint strategy on how to go ahead with the issue. Congress sources said in view of the present stalemate over the Adani-Hindenburg issue, Opposition leaders would meet again in Kharge’s office in the morning tomorrow to chalk out the strategy to be adopted on the floor as well as outside.