The Upper House of the Indian Parliament, Rajya Sabha, was paralysed for the second straight day on Wednesday as opposition forced four adjournments by creating uproar over the Lalit Modi and Vyapam scam of Madhya Pradesh.
The government, while ruling out any resignation, challenged to opposition for a debate.
Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accused the opposition of doing politics of slogan-shouting as he pressed for starting the debate on the issue.
His comment came after Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said that the Ministers whose names have cropped up in the controversies should resign.
Yadav contended that if the accused ministers resign, they will emerge stronger after the probe clears their names.
To emphasise his point, he cited the resignation by him and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L K Advani after their names cropped up in the Jain Hawala case in 1990s, till their names were cleared.
The Upper House saw repeated adjournments in the pre-lunch session, with two each in the Zero Hour and the Question Hour, as opposition led by Congress continued the uproar demanding resignations of Ministers and Chief Ministers.
“There has been enough of politics of slogan-shouting.
You start with the debate. The House will now allow slogan-shouting. If you have any logic, then you speak,” Jaitley said as Yadav rose to speak.
An agitated Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “there will be no resignations.”
This agitated the opposition members, who created uproar.
As soon as obituary references were made, several opposition parties, including the Congress, BSP and the Left, insisted that no debate was possible without the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje following their alleged involvement in the controversy over former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi. They also raised the issue of Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh.
However, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members wanted a discussion on the Lalit Modi issue to be initiated immediately saying they did not want the opposition members to speak on the adjournment motion they had moved on these issues.
Amidst slogan shouting by the opposition members and heated exchanges between them and those from treasury benches including Ministers, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien first adjourned the House for 15 minutes and then again till noon.
At noon when the Question Hour was taken up by Chairman Hamid Ansari, the opposition members continued the uproar forcing the third adjournment of the House.
Earlier, Finance Minister and Leader of the House Arun Jaitley defended Swaraj asking the opposition to point out one provision of the law which she has violated in allegedly trying to help the former IPL commissioner.
Mayawati (Bahujan Samaj Party) attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the episode had exposed those who had claimed that “na khaoonga, na khane doonga” (I will neither take bribe nor will I allow anyone to take it). Amidst ruling party protests, Mayawati demanded an impartial CBI probe and resignation of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister.
Soon after the obituary reference, Satish Chandra Misra (BSP), Naresh Agarwal (Samajwadi Party), Tapan Kumar Sen (Communist Party of India-Marxist) and D Raja (Communist Party of India) said they had given notices under rule 267 to suspend business to take up discussion on Lalitgate and Vyapam scams.
Jaitley said the Vyapam issue was “squarely a state issue” and if the Opposition wanted to change rule to “discuss state issues and set up new precedents”, then issues ranging from Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Goa should also be discussed. “So we will be fair to all states,” he said.
“If they want to discuss the issue relating to Sushma Swaraj, please start the discussion right now,” he said.
When the House met again at 12.30 after the first adjournment, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad suggested that some members who had given adjournment notice should be allowed to speak, prompting Jaitley to protest and ask whether such a practice could be allowed everyday.
Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) however asserted that Vyapam issue was not just restricted to one state as people involved in it had died even outside Madhya Pradesh under mysterious circumstances.
As the din continued and Kurien’s pleas asking members to resume business not finding any takers, the Deputy Chairman adjourned the House till noon.
When the House reassembled and Chairman Hamid Ansari took up the Question Hour, opposition Congress responded with a resounding ‘No’.
Sharad Yadav (Janata Dal-United) got up and sought time to speak on the Lalit Modi issue saying his right to speak cannot be denied. He was supported by Rajeev Shukla (Cong) who said the issue was serious enough as it concerned corruption and the concerned Ministers should resign.
“Discussion and debate is your right, but rules have been framed with your consent. The Question Hour belongs to your colleagues. Allow them to speak,” Ansari said.
At this, Yadav said “the Question Hour has been dispensed with not once but a thousand times. I agree that it is Question Hour, but many times it has been dispensed with. How can you delink the debate?”
As Congress and opposition members continued the uproar and indulged in heated exchanges with members of the treasury benches, the Chairman adjourned the House again for half an hour.