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Opposition disrupts Rajya Sabha proceedings again over Pegasus row, farm laws

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Protests by unrelenting opposition members over Pegasus snooping allegations and farm laws again disrupted proceedings in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, as they demanded that discussions be taken up on the issues in the House. Congress, TMC and other opposition party MPs rushed into the Well of the House, shouting slogans against alleged surveillance and farm laws, forcing the Chair to adjourn the proceedings four times before winding up for the day.

Amid the din, the House passed the Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021, which will replace an over nine-decade-old law governing lighthouses and provide a fresh framework to establish and manage vessel traffic services. The Rajya Sabha has so far failed to transact any substantial business in the Monsoon Session that started on July 19. There has only been a discussion on COVID-10 management in the Upper House.

An exasperated Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said that the agitating members were harming the interest of the country, the MPs and also Parliament with their conduct, as his repeated appeals to them to maintain order went unheeded.

“I am concerned over media reports that some sections of the House have decided not to allow the functioning of the House for the remainder of the session,” he said.

No sooner had the House condoled the death of former member Wasim Ahmad, former prime minister of Mauritius Anerood Jugnauth and Zambia’s first president Kenneth David Buchizhya Kaunda, the opposition MPs rushed into the Well shouting slogans.

Some members said they have given notices under Rule 267 seeking suspension of the listed business of the day to take up a discussion on the issues they were raising.

As the slogan-shouting disrupted the proceedings, Naidu said today is the sixth scheduled sitting of the monsoon session.

“We are yet to get into business mode,” he said.

Asking the members to introspect over such an attitude, he said this is what is being made out of parliamentary democracy.

“Parliament is meant for making laws, to discuss public issues (but) nothing is being allowed,” he said, adding that important bills are listed for discussion and passing.

He referred to eight bills being passed in 17 minutes in the past.

“Unfortunately, Parliament is being reduced to such a sorry state of affairs,” Naidu said, expressing unhappiness over the disruptions.

“Leaders of parties have voiced their concern over the ongoing state of affairs of this august House and being deprived of raising issues of public concern.”

He said members are being deprived of making zero-hour submissions of public importance, making special mentions and raising questions.

“You are harming the interest of the country, yourself and also the interest of Parliament,” he said. “I appeal to all of you to please rethink about this attitude. See to it that the discussion takes place.”

As the slogan-shouting continued, he remarked that the chair does not accept dictation or dramatics.

“I will never accept such dictation by anybody. Dictation or dramatics is not going to be accepted by the chair, whosoever is in the chair,” he said before adjourning the proceedings till 12.00 hours.

Soon after the members met at noon and Deputy Chairman Harivansh announced the Question Hour, the Opposition members again stormed the Well and started raising slogans against the government.

The deputy chairman’s repeated pleas to the protesting members to take their seats and allow the Question Hour to function did not yield any results.

The deputy chairman said they are depriving others of an opportunity to ask questions from the government and requested the protesting members to follow the rules as they are flouting COVID-19 norms.

“Members who are in the well are snatching the rights of others,” he said.

Deputy leader of the House Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “The kind of words and language being used by the Opposition members for the prime minister is highly objectionable.”

He also said the protesting Opposition members are violating the coronavirus protocol as they are raising slogans in the Well without wearing masks.

As the Opposition members continued their sloganeering, the deputy chairman adjourned the House till 2 PM.

When the House met again, Deputy Chairman Harivansh asked the House to proceed with a discussion on the Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021.

As a BJP MP started speaking on the bill, the Opposition members, some of them carrying placards, trooped into the Well and started raising slogans against the government on the Pegasus snooping row.

The deputy chairman then adjourned the House till 3 PM but similar scenes were witnessed again as the proceedings resumed.

The deputy chairman asked the House to proceed with a discussion on the Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021 and called the members whose names were listed for the discussion.

However, as no one came forward, he asked Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal to reply, after which the bill was passed.

The House was adjourned then till 4 PM.

Later, BJD member Sasmit Patra, in the chair, adjourned the House for the day immediately after Women and Child welfare minister Smriti Zubin Irani moved a motion for consideration of The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021.

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