Even as the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal members kept away, the government on Thursday insisted in the Rajya Sabha on an expression of regret by the seven suspended members who heckled Chairman Hamid Ansari on Tuesday when the Women's Reservation Bill was tabled.
It was expected that the members — four from Samajwadi Party, one each from the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Lok Jan Shakti Party and formerly Janata Dal (United) — would meet the Chairman during the course of the day. But that did not happen.
SP leaders Ramgopal Yadav, Brijbhushan Tiwari, RJD leader Prem Chand Gupta and S.S. Ahluwalia (BJP) did meet Mr. Ansari in his chamber to work out a “formulation,'' but till late evening there was no breakthrough.
The government's assertion was in response to expression of ‘regret' by Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley. He was backed by leaders of the Shiv Sena, the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam but each stated a different approach to resolving the issue.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was present in the House but made no intervention.
As the question hour could not be taken up for the fourth consecutive day, Chairman Hamid Ansari made some stern observations while adjourning the House twice before noon.
“The volatility of the House of Elders is absolutely amazing. This kind of conduct is reprehensible and disgusting,'' he said.
As soon as the House met in the morning, Mr Jaitley expressed regret for “some unfortunate scenes and the disrespect shown to the Chair during the tabling of the Bill.''
In the larger interest of the functioning of the House it doesn't behove well that the seven members “stay out'' he said, seeking withdrawal of suspension.
Appreciating Mr. Jaitley's gesture, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Pawan Kumar Bansal said the Prime Minister had also expressed regret.
“The unseemly extraordinary situation required a bitter medicine. We will be able to conduct the business of the House better if those members who were suspended express regret. The first necessary step has to be taken and things need to be sorted out.''
At this several members were on their feet in protest. CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury, who was frequently interrupted by Jayanthi Natarajan (Congress), observed that it was “not a happy situation.'' The matter needed to be resolved between the Chair and the suspended members.
D. Raja (CPI) said the suspension was on the basis of a motion moved by the government and it should be revoked by the same procedure. It could not continue.
V. Maitreyan (AIADMK) observed that “the net result'' would be that the Women's Bill would not be brought in the Lok Sabha.
While supporting revocation of suspension, DMK leader Tiruchi Siva referred to one of the suspended members saying outside the House that even if he was dismissed he would not apologise. Such statements need not be made outside the House, he observed.