This Article is From Aug 01, 2023

''Such Walkout Is Not Appreciated'': Rajya Sabha Chairman To Opposition

Asking the protesting members to introspect if they are doing justice to their duty, Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar told them they were losing an important opportunity and they should not surrender the space of dialogue, discussion and deliberation.

''Such Walkout Is Not Appreciated'': Rajya Sabha Chairman To Opposition
New Delhi:

Opposition members of the INDIA bloc on Tuesday walked out in protest from Rajya Sabha twice as they pressed for a statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Manipur issue along with a comprehensive discussion.

Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar said he can allow the debate for as long as they want but an unrelenting opposition continued its sloganeering, demanding a discussion under Rule 267 where all other business of the House is suspended to take up a matter.

Asking the protesting members to introspect if they are doing justice to their duty, he told them they were losing an important opportunity and they should not surrender the space of dialogue, discussion and deliberation.

About the demand for the prime minister's statement in the House, he recalled that in 2014 too a similar demand was made, but the Chair then had observed that such a demand was constitutionally "illpremised".

"I urge members to seriously introspect and not surrender the space of dialogue, discussion and deliberation, as the same will not serve the essence of the oath the members of this august house have taken," Mr Dhankhar said.

He said, "By our actions, we have plunged this institution... into virtual irrelevance. It does not gel with logic and rationale approach that for over last eight days the House is being disrupted over the same issue".

Mr Dhankhar said he has accepted the notices of some members under Rule 176 on a short-duration discussion and they should discuss the Manipur situation as he was ready to relax the rule for a short-duration discussion and continue the debate for as long as they want.

He said the country, which has big expectations from them, was watching their behaviour.

But, opposition members who continued to raise slogans during the Question Hour walked out of the House after Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge was not allowed to speak on the Manipur issue.

They again walked out when the House reconvened at 2 PM during the post-lunch period.

During post-lunch, Mr Kharge, who was allowed to speak during a discussion on the Multi-State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, questioned why the prime minister was not present in the House.

Chairman Dhankhar said, "Every time I have acceded to your request your input has been the same".

Mr Kharge responded, saying, "No no. I have given nearly nine points why this discussion should take place, why the prime minister should come here".

Mr Dhankhar said this was nothing but a way to challenge his decision.

After this, the Opposition staged a walkout, even as the chairman highlighted the importance of the bill and said, "On such an important issue...such kind of walkout is not appreciated."

Dhankhar said that he realises the importance of the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) and has given him an opportunity to make his contribution since July 20.

"...the contribution has been in a sense challenge to my decision. ...The minimum respect we can show by a sense of propriety and decorum is to believe in the decision of the Chair...

"I have indicated to them on a number of occasions, their demand that the prime minister be here, does not have any Constitutional premise," he said.

The chairman also mentioned that he took no time in accepting the notice under Rule 176 for a short-duration discussion on the Manipur issue, but the Opposition did not avail the opportunity and they want discussion under Rule 267.

"In the process, they (Opposition) want to revisit my decision, which I had declined on a number of occasions," he added.

The Rajya Sabha members were on their feet from the beginning of the Question Hour, shouting "Manipur, Manipur".

The Congress' chief whip Jairam Ramesh, said, "Today, too, the INDIA parties demanded the prime minister's presence in the Rajya Sabha to make a statement on Manipur, to be followed by a discussion." He also alleged Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge was not allowed to speak. "All INDIA (alliance) parties walked out around 12:30 pm," Mr Ramesh said in a tweet later.

The Rajya Sabha was earlier adjourned till noon amid protest by the opposition members demanding a discussion on the Manipur issue in the House.

Before the adjourning House proceedings around 11.25 am, Mr Dhankhar expressed concern over repeated disruptions over demand for a discussion on the Manipur issue under Rule 267 of the Rajya Sabha.

"We are becoming a subject of ridicule by the public at large," Mr Dhankhar observed as opposition members, kept raising slogans demanding a statement from the prime minister on the issue.

The chairman had also "declined" 60 notices under Rule 267 stating they did not conform to the norms.

Mr Dhankhar told Rajya Sabha members that the proceedings were being disrupted despite his ruling on July 20 for a short-duration discussion on Manipur under Rule 176.

He said a discussion was initiated the previous day but it remained "inconclusive" due to continued disruption in the House.

The chairman also said he had discussions with the floor leaders of various parties on Monday and suggested that more time could be allocated so that everyone gets a chance to express their views.

"In spite of that, the discussion could not take place. We have created a situation whereby we are throwing out the baby with the bath water," Mr Dhankhar said.

After the Question Hour was completed in the Upper House, the Chairman asked the opposition members, who boycotted proceedings despite their name being called to put forward their queries, for introspection.

"Question Hour is the heart of parliamentary democracy. It allows the person asking questions, a rare opportunity to generate information and accountability of the executive.

"It has been most unfortunate that some of the members, who asked the questions, were lucky in the valet. Starred questions were listed and they failed to avail the opportunity of asking the questions.

"They need to reflect and introspect, whether such an approach is justice to the duty, do they regard public welfare the way they should," Mr Dhankhar said.

"Having taken the oath of the Constitution, if we failed to live up to, the aspirations and expectations of the people, we are not in the right frame of the performance of our duties," he noted.

The Chairman took the names of several opposition members including Raghav Chaddha (AAP), Imran Pratapgarhi and Shaktisinh Gohil (both Cong) who were not present in the House despite questions being asked by them.

Earlier in the day, CPI(M) MP John Brittas raised a point of order when a standing committee report on 'Citizens' Data Security and Privacy' of the Ministry of Electronics and IT was tabled in the House.

He pointed out that the report pertains to the digital data protection bill, which has been approved by the Cabinet but has neither been introduced in the House nor referred to the standing committee.

"The standing committee has overstepped and it is beyond their jurisdiction and it is breaching your (Chair) authority and the authority of this House," he said.

The chairman, however, overruled the point of order and said it was right to place the report of a committee in the House and the "rest will follow in accordance with the rules".

"But to take a stand that this august House must not have such kind of input, your point of order is devoid of any merit," Mr Dhankhar said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)