"Muzzled" In Parliament, Says Opposition After Day Of Protests

The Samajwadi Party, Telugu Desam Party, Trinamool Congress and the Congress boycotted parliament in protest today

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The opposition leaders boycotted parliament for the rest of the day.


New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Complaint was against chairperson - Vice President Venkaiah Naidu
  2. "We are not intruding in government business": Ghulam Nabi Azad
  3. Opposition leaders united to protest against "abrupt" adjournment
After boycotting Rajya Sabha for the day, Opposition leaders said this afternoon that their voice was being "muzzled" through repeated adjournments. The complaint was against the chairperson - vice president Venkaiah Naidu -- who, the leaders said, would not allow them to raise the "hundreds of issues that crop up post 6 pm the previous day".

"We are not intruding in government business," said senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. Arguing that the chairpersons have traditionally been "accommodating" for smooth conduction of business, he said now they are not allowed raise these issues in the Zero Hour. "They (the chairpersons) get up and adjourn the house. Our voice is being muzzled," he added.

Earlier today, Rajya Sabha was adjourned during the Zero Hour - 11 am to noon -- after BJP ally Telugu Desam Party requested a suspension of business under a particular rule. TDP lawmaker CM Ramesh, who made the request, also proposed a discussion on the promises made to Andhra Pradesh government during the bifurcation of Telangana and the special development packages promised to the state.

Vociferous protests followed, with opposition leaders uniting to protest against what they called an "abrupt" adjournment and one that was against rules and traditions.

Vice-Chairman PJ Kurien tried to calm the lawmakers, saying it is the prerogative of the Chairman of Rajya Sabha on notices he allows. The lawmakers, he said, could meet Mr Naidu in his chamber with their issues but no discussion will be allowed on the floor of the House.

The Samajwadi Party, Telugu Desam Party, Trinamool Congress and the Congress boycotted parliament for the rest of the day in protest.

"What happened this morning in the House is unprecedented and hasn't happened since 1950," said Trinamool lawmaker Derek O'Brien, alleging a violation of "parampara" or tradition of the House.

Earlier today, Mr Naidu had refused to allow notices given by TMC, TDP and the Congress. Mr O'Brien was seen in the House waving a paper, saying, "Governor of the State can't interfere..."

Senior Samajwadi Party lawmaker Naresh Agarwal accused the Chairman of the Upper House of being "partial" and alleged that the House was being run by the BJP. Much later, they clarified that they did not mean to cast aspersions about Mr Naidu, but "this is not the way Rajya Sabha is run".

Since the presentation of the Union budget last week, the opposition had launched a concerted attack on the government in Rajya Sabha, where they are a majority. Yesterday, on the floor of the house, Mr Azad had accused the government of treating opposition leaders as "potential  terrorists" and tapping their phones.


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