First day of Monsoon Session a washout

Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha remained adjourned for most of the day as Opposition remained firm on its demand that Prime Minister must make a statement during a debate on the ethnic strife in Manipur in Parliament; INDIA coalition parties decided that a joint delegation would visit the State

Updated - July 21, 2023 06:49 am IST

Published - July 20, 2023 09:03 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The ruckus began at noon when the House sat down for the business of the day. The Opposition moved eight adjournment notices under Rule 267 — that requires the business of the day to be suspended — to debate the Manipur situation.

The ruckus began at noon when the House sat down for the business of the day. The Opposition moved eight adjournment notices under Rule 267 — that requires the business of the day to be suspended — to debate the Manipur situation. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Parliament failed to function on the first day of the monsoon session, with the Opposition remaining adamant that the first order of business should be a debate on the violence in Manipur with a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Though the government said it was willing to hold a discussion on the Manipur situation, the PM was only briefly present in the Lok Sabha, and both Houses were adjourned for most of the day, due to Opposition protests.

The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the first hour of the day, as a mark of respect to sitting MP and senior BJP leader Hardwar Dubey, who passed away last month. The ruckus began at noon when the House sat down for the business of the day. The Opposition moved eight adjournment notices under Rule 267 — which requires the business of the day to be suspended — to debate the Manipur situation.

PM’s seat empty

Leader of the House Piyush Goyal said that the government was ready for a discussion on the subject and had no objection to admitting the notices. When the Chairman allowed the notices for a short duration discussion, the Opposition rose in protest, pointing out the empty front row where the Prime Minister sits.

Also Read | Parliament Monsoon session updates | Both Houses witness uproar over the Opposition’s demand to discuss Manipur issue

“How the Leader of the House suddenly gets up and says we are ready for a discussion? We have given notices under Rule 267 for suspending all other business of the House and then take this up. Let Prime Minister give a statement and we will discuss,” Leader of the Opposition and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge asserted. Opposition leaders accused the government of trying to dilute the debate by taking it up under a “softer” rule, which does not require the government to reply to the debate.

Trinamool Congress floor leader Derek O’Brien reiterated that the discussion on the Manipur situation should be taken up under Rule 267, insisting that Mr. Modi must break his silence on Manipur in the House. Raising a point of order, Mr. O’Brien said that Rule 267 should be enforced and their notices be taken up first. “The Prime Minister has to speak on Manipur inside the house,” he said. The House was adjourned till 2 p.m.

‘Manipur burning, PM silent’

When it reconvened, soon after papers were laid, Rajya Sabha chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar invited Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur to introduce the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill. Protesting this, Opposition members asked the Chairman to allow Opposition leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who was on his feet, to speak.

Mr. Kharge said that he was feeling sorry that the Opposition’s adjournment motion under Rule 267 for a discussion on the Manipur violence was not taken up for discussion. “I have made my full efforts to attract your attention and gave notice but unfortunately, I am not allowed to raise this under Rule 267. You know Manipur is burning, women are raped and paraded naked... and Prime Minister is keeping quiet. He is giving statement outside,” he said. As Opposition members started raising slogans, demanding the PM’s statement on the issue, Mr. Dhankhar adjourned the House for the day.

‘Home Minister will reply’

The Lok Sabha saw bleaker scenes. The House was adjourned till lunch to pay respects to two sitting Lok Sabha MPs who recently died. At 2 p.m., BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, who was in the Chair, said that the Speaker had dismissed all of the Opposition’s adjournment motions on Manipur. Papers were laid amid protests and sloganeering from the Opposition benches.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said that the government was ready to discuss Manipur in both Houses of Parliament and that Union Home Minister Amit Shah would reply to the discussion. As Opposition members continued raising slogans, Mr. Somaiya adjourned the House for the day.

Opposition strategy

Earlier in the day, leaders of the new INDIA coalition had their first meeting to discuss their Parliamentary strategy, where they decided that the Opposition would not compromise on its position on Manipur.

The group also decided that a joint delegation, either comprising Chief Ministers of the Opposition-ruled States, or Parliamentarians, would visit Manipur. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi led a party delegation to the State, and delegations from other parties have also visited the State in the last few weeks.

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