Amendments moved by Opposition defeated by voice-vote
Dramatic scenes marked the passage of the Telangana Bill in the Rajya Sabha when all the amendments moved by Opposition members were either defeated by voice-vote or not put to vote by the Chair on the grounds that there was disorder in the House.
Every time an Opposition party member, particularly from the BJP, pressed for “division of votes,” Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh — who was a member of the GoM on Telangana and a key architect of the Bill — would rush to the Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley who would gently gesticulate to him to “relax.” More than twice BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu sought “division” but was quick to catch on to the situation as Mr. Ramesh would rush back to the treasury benches and from there give an “explanation” or “an assurance” which would “satisfy” Mr. Naidu
A repeat of the scene at least five times prompted CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury to charge that there was “match fixing” between the ruling party and the main Opposition party.
Elderly BJP member M. Rama Jois moved at least five amendments on the issue of a High Court Bench in Hyderabad and since nothing was audible in the din, would every time insist on pressing for “division,” only to be persuaded by his party members not to pursue it. Finally, when it came to the last two of his amendments, he did not even rise from his seat, gesticulating that he was not moving, triggering laughter in the House.
Other members too objected when the Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien could not hear in the din two Biju Janata Dal members who wanted to press their amendment on a water issue. Left party members were on their feet in protest, seeking “as much time to other parties as the BJP members.” A few of them were heard saying that the Bill was being rushed through. But for the CPI, the non-Congress, non-BJP bloc who had come together recently for coordination on the floor of the House voiced their protest. Some of them walked out.
There were some anxious moments for the ruling party as much of the points the Opposition members were raising had been answered in the Prime Minister’s statement on special package and other incentives. When Mr. Naidu insisted on seeking replies about finances, Mr. Ramesh realised that the member had not been given the Prime Minister’s statement. He rushed to Mr. Shinde and took his copy of the statement to Mr. Naidu. When Mr. Jaitley also asked for a copy, Mr. Ramesh came to the Prime Minister and took his copy to hand over to the Leader of the Opposition.
All through this, members of the Telugu Desam Party and the Trinamool Congress were in the Well of the House either holding placards that said the Bill was “unconstitutional, illegal and not right” or raising slogans. As the Prime Minister was making his statement, TMC members tore copies of the Bill and flung them saying “tear the Bill, throw it.”
C.M. Ramesh (TDP), who has been in the forefront of protests against division of the State, said only four words when his turn came: “This Bill is illegal.”