Parliament ruckus National

House meant for debate, not political battles, says Venkaiah Naidu

Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

The political battles should not be fought on the “table of the House”, Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu said in an informal interaction on Friday, two-days after the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021 was passed in Rajya Sabha amid fierce protests from the Opposition who also had a tussle with a strong contingent of marshals deployed in the chamber.

On August 10, when the Rajya Sabha took up a discussion on “the agricultural problems and solutions”, some Opposition members, demanding a discussion on the Pegasus cyberattack and a repeal of the farm laws, had clambered onto the reporter’s table which is placed right in front of the Chair. On August 11 again, when the government, despite demands from a united Opposition to send the Insurance Bill to a select committee, pushed to pass the legislation, similar scenes were repeated.

To prevent Opposition members from climbing on to the table, 42 marshals were deployed. As The Hindu has reported, the Bill was passed amid clashes between Opposition members and marshals.

“Legislatures are meant for debate and discussion and outside political battles should not be fought on the Table of the House,” Mr. Naidu said.

‘Govt’s prerogative’

He also commented that it is the government’s prerogative to decide which bill is sent to a Parliamentary Committee. “Whenever differences persist on such matters in the House, the House collectively takes a decision and the Chair cannot force it one way or the other,” he added.

Mr. Naidu said the Opposition and Treasury benches in the House are like his two eyes and are equal for him. “One cannot have proper vision if one eye is not functioning properly. For me both government and Opposition are like my two eyes,” he said.

Oppn MPs indicted

Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha secretariat has prepared a detailed charge sheet of the August 11 events indicting the Opposition. The Opposition on the other hand, had complained about the scale of deployment of security officers inside the chamber, comparing it to a “war-like” situation.

The internal report states that additional security officials were rushed in to prevent MPs from causing any damage to the Chair and the Table of the House. When the Opposition MPs, the report said, “failed to breach the cordon of security officials (Marshals) and their efforts to cause potential damage to the Chair/Table of the House went in vain, they started manhandling security officials (marshal)”.

The report names several Opposition members for tearing and throwing papers, pushing and shoving marshals. It goes on to accuse CPI (M) MP Elamaram Kareem of trying to strangle a marshal. “Elamaram Kareem manhandled and severely choked the neck of one male marshal and dragged him in order to break the security cordon,” the report claimed. The concerned marshal has also submitted a formal complaint.

Mr. Naidu said action is being contemplated against some members and an appropriate view would be taken at the earliest.

MP seeks probe

However, Mr. Kareem has written to Mr. Naidu demanding a probe into the attack on Opposition MPs including himself inside the chamber on August 11, stating that the complaint filed against him is “fake”.

“Marshals have adopted a violent way of physically blocking the movement of Opposition MPs using brute force. When I tried to approach the Chairman’s chamber to personally convince him, one among them, whom I can identify by face, grabbed and pushed me away,” Mr. Kareem wrote. He said he got hit on the chest.

The marshals, the MP said, were deployed in huge numbers in what was “a well planned action intended to harm the protesting MPs”. The government later, he said, released a small portion of the CCTV visuals of the day to “mislead the public and deliberately tarnish the Opposition”.

Mr Kareem has also asked Chairman Naidu to provide him the RS TV footage of the day. The live telecast did not show any of these tussles, keeping the camera trained on the treasury benches alone the whole time.

“I hereby demand you to take stringent action against the Security staff who physically assaulted the Opposition MPs. I also urge you to investigate in detail whether any outsiders have infiltrated among the security staff,” he wrote.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 3:01:19 PM |

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