Lok Sabha proceedings were disrupted on Tuesday over the ongoing strike by the motormen of Mumbai's suburban railways with two members almost coming to blows over the issue. The intervention of other MPs prevented the situation from taking an uglier turn.
Ramchander Dome of the CPI (M) and Sudip Bandopadhyay of the Trinamool Congress almost came to blows when the latter reportedly used unparliamentary language for the CPI (M) leader Basudeb Acharia who was demanding a statement from the Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee on the strike.
Tempers ran high as the Ms. Banerjee came under sharp criticism from the entire House, including the Congress, for her “failure” to resolve the motormen's demands despite several notices and particularly her absence from the Lok Sabha when the matter was being discussed. Cutting across party lines, the members criticised the government for imposing Essential Services Maintenance Act under which several striking suburban railway employees had been arrested, placed under suspension and dismissed from services.
While Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal tried to pacify the House by saying that the government would make a statement on the issue within two days, Mr. Bandopadhyay said he would convey the matter to Ms. Banerjee at the earliest. He said she was busy with the municipal elections in West Bengal and hence could not attend the House.
Mr. Basudeb Acharia was responding to this when Mr. Bandopadhyay interrupted him resulting in a verbal duel between him and the CPI (M) members. As Mr Dome came rushing towards Mr. Bandopadhyay, several MPs including Mr. Bansal, Ambika Soni, Jagdambika Pal, Lalu Prasad and those from the National Democratic Alliance intervened to pacify the situation. When things started going out of hand, Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the House until 2 p.m.
When the House assembled this morning, the members raised the issue of motormen's strike that had paralysed Mumbai, the controversy involving Union Telecommunications Minister A. Raja and a demand for caste-based census that led to the first adjournment with most members storming into the well.
Speaker Meira Kumar allowed Shiv Sena's Anant Geete to raise the matter when the House met at 12 noon who drew the attention of the House towards the hardships caused by the strike and wanted the government to make a statement. He was supported by Sanjay Nirupam (Congress), Gopinath Munde (BJP), Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M), Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI), Sanjeev Ganesh Naik (NCP) and Lalu Prasad (RJD) all of whom demanded negotiations with the striking employees and withdrawal of suspension and dismissal order issued by the Railways Ministry.
Chaos continued to prevail when the House met again at 2 p.m. with the opposition demanding an apology from Sudip Bandopadhyay over his remarks against Mr. Acharia. Deputy Speaker Karia Munda adjourned the House within minutes after the government said a statement would be made on the issue in the evening.