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Maharashtra issue rocks Parliament

Strong stance: Congress president Sonia Gandhi leading a protest against the Maharashtra government formation issue on the Parliament premises on Monday.

Strong stance: Congress president Sonia Gandhi leading a protest against the Maharashtra government formation issue on the Parliament premises on Monday.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Opposition members stage vociferous protests, forcing adjournment of proceedings in both Houses

Repeated protests and disruptions over Maharashtra forced both the Houses of Parliament to adjourn for the day on Monday without transacting much business.

In the Lok Sabha, Speaker Om Birla called out marshals to evict two protesting Congress members, while the Rajya Sabha witnessed multiple adjournments over the Opposition’s demand to have a discussion on the developments in Maharashtra.

Monday was the first working day for Parliament after the dramatic swearing-in of BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis as the Maharahstra Chief Minister on Saturday.

 

For the first time in the 17th Lok Sabha, the Opposition forced an adjournment. As soon as proceedings began at 11 a.m., Congress members stormed into the well with placards and started shouting slogans against the Union government.

Mr. Birla, however, wanted to carry on with the Question Hour and called former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to ask a supplementary question.

‘Democracy murdered’

“I wanted to ask a question today but there is no point in my asking the question as democracy has been murdered in Maharashtra,” Mr. Gandhi said, amid loud sloganeering by colleagues.

The placards displayed by the Congress MPs had messages like “Save Constitution” and “Save Democracy,” but what got the Speaker angry was a banner that read “Stop the Murder of Democracy.”

 

After his warnings to put away the banner went unheeded, the Speaker named two Congress members – Hibi Eden and T.N. Prathapan – who were holding it and asked marshals to escort them out.

However, as other Congress members joined in to resist the eviction of their colleagues, they were seen to be jostling with the marshals, forcing the Speaker to abruptly adjourn the House.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who earlier led a protest outside the Mahatma Gandhi statue in the Parliament complex, questioned the Speaker’s decision to call in marshals.

Subsequently, two women MPs of the Congress – Jothimani and Ramya Haridas – filed a complaint in the Speaker’s office about being manhandled by the Parliament security staff.

Unacceptable: Birla

Though the Speaker convened a meeting of floor leaders at noon, it failed to arrive at any breakthrough and the House had to be adjourned for the day after the introduction of two Bills, including the one to amend the Special Protection Group (SPG) Act, when it met at 2 pm.

 

In the post-lunch session, Ms. Gandhi was seen coordinating with other Opposition leaders such as DMK’s T.R. Baalu and Trinamool’s Kalyan Banerjee for a joint Opposition strategy.

“I am hurt by whatever happened in Parliament today. It is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated,” Mr. Birla later told reporters. Though he didn’t comment on what possible action can be taken, sources told The Hindu that suspension of Mr. Eden and Mr. Prathapan for a “considerable period” was under consideration.

Proceedings of the Rajya Sabha too were adjourned within five minutes of convening at 2 p.m. as Opposition members raised the Maharashtra issue.

Deputy Chairperson Harivansh Narayan Singh read out Chairperson M. Venkaiah Naidu’s ruling from earlier in the day where Mr. Naidu stated that the House can discuss President’s rule being imposed or revoked in a State only when a motion to that effect was brought before it.

 

Congress members then asked why did Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi speak if the matter was “sub judice”.

In the morning, when the Opposition wanted a discussion on the revocation of President’s rule in Maharashtra, Mr. Naqvi said the Governor’s decision could be discussed only through a substantive motion and alleged that “the Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP were trying to hijack democracy in Maharashtra through jugad.”

When Opposition MPs refused to relent, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur introduced a proposal to withdraw the International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill, 2019, which was approved by the House.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 2:32:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/maharashtra-issue-rocks-parliament/article30079174.ece

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