Amid Opposition protests over Adani Group, Rajya Sabha adjourned till March 13

Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar cautions Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge for casting aspersions on the Chair and expunges his remarks

February 13, 2023 01:32 pm | Updated 08:40 pm IST - New Delhi

Proceedings of Rajya Sabha during Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, on February 13, 2023.

Proceedings of Rajya Sabha during Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, on February 13, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Amid continued protests and sloganeering by Opposition members over the Adani Group, the first part of the Budget Session of the Rajya Sabha was adjourned till March 13 on Monday. Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar cautioned Leader of the Opposition (LoP) Mallikarjun Kharge for casting aspersions on the Chair and expunged his remarks.

Mr. Dhankar said, “My greatest problem is that when on an issue, I give the floor, it goes on a tangent. LoP wanted to speak on an aspect of expunging of observations. ...And, given the status of the LoP, I permitted him to hold the floor. He held the floor and started reading out the portions I had expunged. Now, I am before you all; if the platform of this House is to be used contrary to the rules.”

Following this, Mr. Kharge said, “I rise today with a heavy heart, expressing my anguish over the brazen way in which the parliamentary traditions and Rules of Procedure..... The so-called undemocratic, unparliamentary words expunged from my remarks in regard to my speech on Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address in Rajya Sabha...the remarks which I made were parliamentary.”

A portion of the speech was expunged from official records on the orders of the Chair on Monday too.

Mr. Kharge rose to speak about the February 9 incident when a portion of his speech on Adani Group was expunged.

Mr. Dhankar charged, “LoP, you’ve indicated in so many words the Chair is acting under pressure. These words are expunged. You are forfeiting your right to hold the floor of the House, every time you are saying that Chair is acting under pressure.”

JPC probe sought

The Opposition has been demanding a probe by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) after the stocks of the Adani Group of companies tumbled, leading to loss of lakhs of crores of investors following a report published by U.S.-based short-seller firm Hindenburg Research alleging several irregularities.

The House witnessed a brief adjournment on Monday before being finally adjourned till 11 a.m. on March 13.

Also Read | SEBI to update FM Sitharaman on Adani probe this week

The Opposition benches chanted “Modi Adani Bhai Bhai, Desh Bechkar Khai Malai” (Brothers Modi and Adani cornered profits by selling off country’s assets).

Mr. Dhankhar spoke about deliberate obstruction of proceedings.

Soon after the listed papers were laid on the table of the House, Opposition members insisted that the Chair allow Mr. Kharge to speak.

When Mr. Dhankhar permitted Mr. Kharge to speak, several members from the treasury benches started chanting “Modi, Modi” to compete against Opposition’s slogans.

Opposition MPs too kept raising slogans. Several of them trooped into the well of the House. The Opposition also raised objection to the suspension of senior member Rajani Patil.

Ms. Patil was suspended from the House for the remainder of the Budget Session for circulating an unauthorised video of house proceedings.

Mr. Dhankhar said he was getting sleepless nights because of inputs he had been getting. “The entire world is watching… it is beyond my comprehension how members can behave like this and attack the Constitution,” he said earlier in the morning as the slogan shouting continued.

Asking the Opposition to maintain decorum and allow question hour to continue, he said, “Does the public expect us to be like this… It does not.

“I am constrained on account of persistent obstruction and I would go to the extent of saying deliberate obstruction...precious time had been lost already,” he said.

Before adjourning the House till next month, he warned, “Members, I am pleading with you for the last time. If the House is subjected to such kind of disturbance, disruption, violation of rules, I will be constrained to act as per expectations of the people.” Earlier, Congress MP Pramod Tiwari urged the Chair to revoke Ms. Patil’s suspension in the best tradition of the House and order a JPC probe.

Demands apology

However, Leader of the House Piyush Goyal asked Opposition MPs to first apologise for their behaviour during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech while replying to the Motion of Thanks. Only after that, he said, could the demand for revocation of suspension be considered. This led to more slogan shouting and uproar from Opposition benches, forcing the chair to adjourn the house. 

Mr. Goyal suggested the Chair to name the members and take appropriate action against them. “If this is going to be the behaviour which is shown to the rest of the country and the world, it is truly an insult of the House. ...They are repeatedly disturbing. Considering that their mood is very agitated, may I suggest to you to adjourn the House for some time and talk to the leaders as to whether they are interested in running the House?” Mr. Goyal said.

Mr. Dhankar said AAP member Sanjay Singh had given seven identical notices under Rule 267 and all of them were declined.

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