Parliament proceedings | Constitutionally ill-premised to demand that the Prime Minister alone must respond, says Rajya Sabha Chairman

Opposition parties walk out after Mallikarjun Kharge not allowed to speak

Updated - August 01, 2023 10:33 pm IST

Published - August 01, 2023 10:18 pm IST - New Delhi

Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar conducts the proceedings of the house during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar conducts the proceedings of the house during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: ANI

Amidst slogans raised by the Opposition leaders demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence in Parliament, Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar on August 1 said that the demand that only the Prime Minister should respond on Manipur is “constitutionally ill-premised”.

Later in the day, the Congress — without directly referring to Mr. Dhankhar’s remarks — cited past occasions when the Prime Minister, responding to the Opposition’s demand, came to the House to give clarifications and statements.

Also read | Lok Sabha debate on no-confidence motion on August 8, PM Modi to reply on August 10 

A few minutes after the House met for the day, Mr. Dhankhar, expressing “deep concern and anguish”, chided the members for plunging the institution of the Rajya Sabha into “virtual irrelevance”. He said there was no rationale for the House being disrupted over the same issue since July 20 when the Monsoon session began, when a short duration discussion on Manipur had been admitted. The debate was initiated on Monday but remains inconclusive. Mr. Dhankhar informed the House that two hours and thirty minutes has been allocated for the debate.

Mr. Dhankhar said, “Insistence by the Opposition members that the Honourable Prime Minister responds to debate is constitutionally ill-premised. The accountability of the government to the Parliament... the executive to the legislature is a collective responsibility,” he said.

He also cited a 2014 precedent when a similar demand was made by now CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury. “As a matter of fact, in 2014 when the issue was raised by the distinguished member Sitaram Yechury, he asked for Honourable PM to be present; it was determined by the Chair that the demand by the member is constitutionally infirm and ill-premised,” he added.

The House was adjourned till noon as the Opposition protest and counter slogans from the Treasury benches continued. When the House met to take up the Question Hour, the Opposition walked out after Mr. Dhankhar ignored an appeal to let Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge speak.

Though the Congress did not mention Mr. Dhankhar, it referred to a series of interventions made by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, including in August 2000 on foreign policy regarding Pakistan; in August 2001 on the Unit Trust of India (UTI) scam and in March 2003 on the situation in Iraq.

Mr. Kharge also told reporters, “In August 2012, Question Hour was suspended after the then BJP member Mr. M. Venkaiah Naidu raised the matter of attacks on migrants from the northeast in different parts of the country. The matter was debated in the House and then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a statement in Parliament on the issue.”

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