Both Houses of Parliament remained paralysed on March 20, 2023 over the BJP’s insistence on an apology from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his democracy remarks and the Opposition’s demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the alleged stock manipulation by the Adani Group.
Amid the regular disruptions since March 13, Mr Gandhi has once again written to the Lok Sabha Speaker to allow him to respond to the BJP that has been attacking him for his “democracy under attack” statement that he had made in London. The letter, said sources, was written on March 18.
As soon as the Lok Sabha met, members of the treasury benches raised slogans against Mr. Gandhi. Opposition members, including those from the Congress, however countered, by shouting slogans demanding a JPC on the Adani issue.
Speaker Om Birla urged the members to allow the Question Hour to take place and assured that he would give everyone an opportunity later.
“Nation wants to watch the House proceedings. This House belongs to you and I will ensure that all of you get adequate opportunity to speak as per rules after the Question Hour,” Mr. Birla said.
The Speaker also cautioned a treasury bench member for sloganeering and took objection to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) member Harsimrat Kaur Badal showing a placard from her seat.
Ms. Badal’s poster read, “Please allow Parliament function” on one side and “save democracy” on the other side.
“You want Parliament to function and bring placards in the House? Is it your way of running Parliament? ….Placards are not allowed,” Mr. Birla told Ms. Badal as he asked her to stop displaying the placard.
As the members didn’t relent, Mr. Birla adjourned the House till 2 p.m. Finally, the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day soon after papers and reports were laid on the floor of the House when it reassembled at 2 p.m.
The Rajya Sabha functioned for nine minutes in the pre-lunch session. Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar informed the House that he received 14 notices under Rule 267 that requires suspension of day’s business. Nine of these notices were received from the Congress to “discuss the government’s failure to constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee to investigate the charges of corporate fraud, political corruption, stock market manipulation and financial mismanagement against the Adani Group.”
CPI(M) member Elamaram Kareem and P. Sandosh Kumar and CPI member Binoy Viswam, under the same rule, demanded a high-level inquiry, monitored on day-to-day basis, by the Supreme Court to know “the truth behind the allegations made in Hindenburg Report against Adani Enterprises and other companies of the group, endangering people’s deposits in LIC, SBI and other banks.
Sanjay Singh (AAP), in a similar notice, demanded a debate on the government’s questionable role in promoting business interests of the Adani Group.
The House, which has been plagued with acrimonious scenes for all of last week, saw a brief humorous interlude, when Trinamool Congress (TMC) member Sukendu Sekhar Ray pointed out that the Chairman has mentioned “the holy name repeatedly”.
TMC’s leader in the Rajya Sabha, Derek O’Brien, added, ”let me clarify, in case, there is any doubt in anybody’s mind- A, D, A, N, I ‘Adani’, that is the name, Sir.” To this Congress chief whip Jairam Ramesh added, “don’t expunge it”, to peals of laughter from both sides of the House.
AAP member Raghav Chadha was asked to speak during Zero Hour, but even before he could begin, the protests from both sides forced Mr. Dhankhar to adjourn the House till lunch.
As soon as the Upper House reassembled for the afternoon session, after being adjourned in the morning session, Deputy Chairman Harivansh asked Sujeet Kumar (BJD) to raise a discussion on the working of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship amid sloganeering by the treasury benches and the opposition members.
Even as Mr. Kumar tried to speak, the slogan shouting continued, forcing the Deputy Chairman to adjourn the House for the day.