The second leg of the Budget Session concluded today, with both Houses adjourned sine die.
This entire leg, which commenced on March 13, has been marked by vociferous protests and sloganeering. The Opposition has been steadfast in its demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into various particulars of the Adani Group and the claims outlined in Hindenburg’s report released earlier this year. Further protests have been spurred by the conviction of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a criminal defamation case and subsequent disqualification from the Lok Sabha. The BJP, meanwhile, has sought an apology from Mr. Gandhi for his remarks about democracy made in the U.K.
Not much business was conducted today in either House. After the Lower House was adjourned sine die shortly after commencing at 11 a.m., the Opposition took out a ‘Tiranga march’ to Vijay Chowk. Opposition leaders attacked the Centre in a joint press conference held after the march and said the second half of the session was washed out due to the government’s stubborn attitude.
“Fighting in a democratic way is our duty. If the government is not listening, it is stubborn. If you want democracy to be alive then listening to the Opposition is important,” Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said.
The Budget Session of the Lok Sabha concluded as per schedule on Thursday as Opposition MPs continued protests against the government even on the last day of the Budget session.
As the House met for the day with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in attendance, Speaker Om Birla began his customary valedictory speech amid protests. Several Opposition members dressed in black soon entered the well of the House with placards and reiterated their demand for a JPC probe into allegations against the Adani group. The Speaker appealed to the members not to disrupt the House proceedings. But as protests continued, Mr. Birla said the behaviour of the Opposition had lowered the dignity of the House and that the Opposition had “systematically” disrupted proceedings. After completing his speech, he announced the adjournment of the House sine die.
News agency ANI reported that 13 political parties including the Congress were skipping the ‘Evening Tea’ meeting hosted by the Lok Sabha Speaker today.
The Rajya Sabha commenced proceedings at 11 a.m., with the laying of papers conducted amid protests from the Opposition. Protests continued as Chair Jagdeep Dhankhar discussed six notices received under rule 267 to suspend the business of the House to discuss issues such as the allegations against Adani group and the use of investigative agencies against Opposition members.
Amid ongoing protests, the House was adjourned till 2 p.m. After it resumed, DMK MP raised a point of order about Mr. Dhankhar’s ruling yesterday; the Chair had overruled Mr. Kharge’s point of order saying that the Rajya Sabha could not discuss the conduct of a Lok Sabha member, in this case, Rahul Gandhi. Mr. Dhankhar thus permitted Piyush Goyal’s discussion of Mr. Gandhi’s remarks.
Mr. Siva highlighted that according to Mr. Dhankhar’s ruling, there can be no issue or individual beyond the purview of discussion in the House. So he questioned if rules 238(1), 238(2) and 238(5) will be struck from the rule book. These rules refer to sub-judice matters, making a personal charge against a member, or reflect on the conduct of a person in high authority, unless the discussion is based on a substantive motion drawn in substantive terms. In reply, Mr. Dhankhar said that he “categorically held that no issue is out of the purview of discussion and fortified your right of expression.”
Post this, Mr. Dhankhar announced that the suspension of INC MP Rajani Ashokrao Patil will continue beyond the current session, till the House receives the recommendations of the Privileges Committee. The MP was suspended on February 10.
As the Opposition protested anew, Mr. Dhankhar made his concluding remarks for the session. He said that the productivity of the first part of the Budget session was 56.3%, while the second part saw a productivity of 6.4%- for a cumulative productivity of 24.4%. Disruptions claimed 3 hours, 30 minutes of time, he said. Following his remarks, and the customary playing of Vande Mataram, the Rajya Sabha, too, was adjourned sine die.