Ugly scenes were witnessed in the Lok Sabha today as members of the ruling BJP and Opposition parties jostled with each other in the well of the House, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House for the day. For the second consecutive day of the resumed Budget session, proceedings were disrupted as an unrelenting Opposition demanded an immediate discussion on the Delhi violence.
Led by women MPs on both sides, in the post-lunch session, members from the Opposition and Treasury benches shoved against each other as the other members set up a constant din with their slogan shouting. Opposition members, including Mahua Moitra of the TMC, were seen tearing up the Parliament papers and flinging them at the Speaker’s table.
Warnings from the Speaker Om Birla that any member, whether from the Opposition or the Treasury benches, who crossed over to the other side, would be suspended for the entire session fell on deaf ears. Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury managed to dodge the jostling members and moved into the Treasury benches side of the well, leading to a commotion between the BJP and Opposition members as they charged towards the Speaker’s table. Other Opposition party members too followed Chowdhury as BJP members attempted to block them. BJP MP from West Bengal Locket Chatterjee was seen having a heated argument with Chowdhury while Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tried to pacify them.
Faced with a barrage of paper missiles and banging of the door leading to the Secretary General’s desk, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day. Even after the adjournment, Union Minister Smriti Irani was seen engaged in a heated argument with Opposition members as other BJP members sought to pacify her.
The Opposition MPs were peeved when the Speaker said the discussion on the Delhi violence would take place on 11 March after the Holi festival and sought to pass the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill. The members stormed into the well demanding an immediate discussion, suspending the passage of the Bill.
Earlier in the day, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the government was ready for a debate on the issue during Zero Hour but the Opposition insisted on an immediate discussion. The Speaker also told agitating members that the issue could be raised during the Zero Hour at noon and commenced the Question Hour. However, the ensuing uproar from Opposition members, including the Congress, DMK and TMC prevented this.
DMK leader TR Baalu said the government was yet to respond on the issue in Parliament while Chowdhury demanded an immediate discussion. All the while, Joshi called upon the Opposition to raise the matter during Zero Hour.
Emphasising that “restoration of peace and normalcy” is the topmost priority of the government, Joshi said, “Charcha ke liye taiyyar hai (we are ready for discussions).” In the face of an unrelenting Opposition, the minister left it to the Speaker to decide.
As opposition members showed placards and shouted slogans, Birla said placards would not be allowed in the House, triggering protests from the Opposition side. A visibly peeved Speaker wanted to know from agitating members whether they wanted placards to be allowed in the House. “Does it work that way?” Birla asked the agitating members amid the ruckus.
As the pandemonium continued, Birla announced that members from both opposition and treasury benches who cross over to the other side during uproar will be suspended for the entire session. Citing earlier discussions among various parties, the Speaker said it was decided that howsoever serious the issue is, it could be raised during Zero Hour. There should be cooperation among members so that the House can function well, he added.
Referring to an all-party meeting, Birla said he was giving a ruling that any member who crosses over to the other side during proceedings would be suspended from attending the House for the remaining session. Such action would be taken against members from Treasury as well as Opposition benches, he clarified. As the ruckus continued, the Speaker adjourned the House till noon.
When the House re-assembled at noon after the first adjournment, the opposition protests continued. Kirit Solanki, who was in the chair, appealed to members to take their seats as the House was to take up several important issues for discussions for the welfare of SCs, STs, OBCs, senior citizens and weaker sections of society.