Mayawati quits Rajya Sabha, says she was muzzled

Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien asked her to wrap up her speech as she had exceeded the three minutes given to her.

July 18, 2017 12:44 pm | Updated August 08, 2017 03:15 pm IST - New Delhi

BSP leader Mayawati addressing the media at the Parliament House in New Delhi on Tuesday.

BSP leader Mayawati addressing the media at the Parliament House in New Delhi on Tuesday.

In a dramatic development, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati resigned from the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday evening after complaining that her voice was being muzzled, as both Houses of Parliament adjourned for the day after frequent disruptions by the Opposition.

Ms. Mayawati, who has nine months to go before her current term in the Rajya Sabha ends, quit after she was told not to stretch the time allotted for her impromptu speech on atrocities against the Dalits in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur.

Deputy chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, P.J. Kurien, allowed Ms. Mayawati to speak first but cautioned her against breaching the three-minute time slot allocated to her.

Saharanpur violence

The BSP chief said after the NDA government took over at the Centre, and particularly in the BJP-ruled States, atrocities against the weaker sections had gone up. She focussed on the Saharanpur incident, stating that the Dalits were not permitted to take out a procession on April 14.

Amid interruptions by some BJP members, she continued though the Chair asked her to conclude saying she could not “monopolise” and others also had to be accommodated.

Mr. Kurien said Ms Mayawati could ask for a discussion on the issue following a notice under Rule 267, seeking an adjournment of the proceedings. The Treasury Benches said they were ready for any discussion.

BJP demands apology

When she was told to stop, a visibly annoyed Ms. Mayawati, said she would rightaway resign as she was not being allowed to voice the concerns of the Dalit community. “I have no moral right to be in the House if I’m not allowed to speak on atrocities against Dalits,” the BSP leader said.

She later met Vice-President Hamid Ansari and handed over her resignation. Mr Ansari’s office said that the matter was being “examined.”

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi accused Ms. Mayawati of challenging and threatening the Chair, calling it a serious matter. He demanded an apology and accused her of playing politics in the name of Dalits.

Support from Congress

The BSP chief got some support from the Congress, with Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad charging the government with going back on its promise made at an all-party meeting ahead of the monsoon session that it was ready to discuss any issue raised by the Opposition.

Mr. Azad said the Opposition had given notices for discussion on a range of issues, including the distressed farmer community, violence against the Dalits and lynching of minorities. In response to the Treasury Benches’ barbs that it had got people’s mandate, Mr. Azad said: “You did not get a mandate to massacre minorities and Dalits.” The Congress too, later staged a walkout in protest.

Despite assurances from the government that it was ready to discuss any issue, protesting treasury members did not relent and the remaining Opposition members protested in the Well of the House, causing repeated adjournments.

The scene was no different in the Lok Sabha where again proceedings were disrupted, with the Opposition members staging protests in the Well of the House, seeking to corner the government on various issues, including cow vigilantism and the agrarian crisis. However, the government pushed through legislative business with three bills introduced and reports of several Parliamentary Committees tabled.

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