As the BJP shouted its demand for the resignation of the Prime Minister, in the Rajya Sabha, Rajiv Shuka walked up to PJ Kurien, who had just been elected Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, and was presiding over the house. Mr Shukla, who is Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, whispered to Mr Kurien that the house should be adjourned for the day.
Two minutes later, Mr Kurien declared just that.
Mr Shukla's instructions were caught on Mr Kurien's mic and the cameras that broadcast proceedings of the Upper House. "Pure din ke liye House
adjourn kara dijiye
(Adjourn the House for the day)," he directed. "Yes," responded Mr Kurien.
"What is the big deal? It's nothing unusual. If the Opposition is not letting the House function, we can always give our suggestions to the Chair. It's upto the Chair to decide whether he wants to accept our suggestion. It has always been like this," Rajiv Shukla said, responding to the controversy this evening.
Defending his action, Mr Kurien said, "I came to the conclusion that the House cannot continue. There is no question of (taking) instructions from (a) minister."
"They are not instructions, not even suggestions. The Chair considers them only as opinions and then Chair will take its independent decision, irrespective of what this side or that side (says)," the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman added.
The opposition BJP, however, has objected to what transpired. Describing the incident as "unacceptable," the party's Nirmala Sitharaman said, "This is typical of the way in which this government functions by trying to undermine institutions."
Spokesperson Prakash Javadekar added, " On the one hand it (Congress) is telling the Chair to adjourn the House and on the other hand, they are blaming the BJP for causing disruptions."
Mr Kurien was unanimously elected Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha today. After Chairman Hamid Ansari announced this, the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley escorted him to his seat. Mr Kurien replaced K Rehman Khan, whose term ended in April.
Both houses of Parliament were adjourned on account of the BJP's protests. The party says that the Prime Minister must resign on the basis of the national auditor's recent report which states that the country lost 1.86 lakh crores because coal mines were given too cheaply to private companies during 2005 and 2009. For three of these years, the Coal Ministry reported directly to Dr Manmohan Singh.
The PM told NDTV today that he is ready to address parliament on the controversy, and would like to engage with the opposition on any issue it suggests. The BJP said it wasn't interested in a discussion. "Since the Prime Minister was the Coal Minister at the time, he assigned the coal blocks and that's why we demand his resignation," said the party's Yashwant Sinha.