What happened inside Rajya Sabha last Sunday? Footage reveals details
The conduct of the government, opposition, and Deputy Chairman Harivansh Singh inside the Rajya Sabha last Sunday garnered much attention. With Singh and the government being on the same side, the opposition was blamed for disrupting proceedings. However, the footage from the stormy session on September 20 indicates that Singh rejected the opposition's concerns and pushed the controversial farm Bills. Here's what happened.
As Bills were being discussed, Centre suggested extending House's timings
An Indian Express report detailed the sequence of events from that day. The proceedings were disrupted at 1 pm when Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar was speaking on two of the three contentious Bills. As the House ran out of time, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi asked Singh to extend it. Meanwhile, the opposition was against the extension and wanted an adjournment.
While opposition called for postponement, Singh said there's a "consensus"
Congress members Anand Sharma, Jairam Ramesh, and DMK's Tiruchi Siva asked Singh to take a sense of the House before extending it. Soon, the Deputy Chairman claimed there was a "consensus" and that the members will sit for longer. Around 1:03 pm, Leader of Opposition in the House, Ghulam Nabi Azad, told Singh that most members wish to take up the matter tomorrow.
Requests for sending Bills to select committee were negated
Around 1:07 pm, Singh started negating statutory resolutions. CPM's KK Ragesh moved a resolution seeking to send the Bills to a committee; his demand was rejected by a voice note. Two minutes later, Singh took up a similar resolution by Trinamool's Derek O'Brien. This resolution was also negated by a voice note. Around the same time, calls for a division were purportedly heard, amid the uproar.
Reportedly, Siva demanded division while sitting; Derek rushed to podium
Thereafter, Singh told members demand for division has to be made from their respective seats. Around 1:10 pm, a resolution by DMK's Tiruchi Siva asking for Bills to be sent to the select committee was again negated. At the time, Siva was seated, asking for a division. However, Derek came near the podium, showed the rule-book to Singh, and declared, "You can't do this."
Attempts were made to uproot mics, papers were torn
Thereafter, a clause by clause consideration began, and amendments moved by Ragesh were shifted to clause II. At the time, Ragesh demanded a division while being seated upstairs. However, a voice note rejected the proposed amendments. Around 1:12 pm, the ruckus intensified with Ragesh and Siva tearing papers. Someone tried uprooting mics. At 1:26 pm, the House was adjourned for 15 minutes.
Subsequently, eight unruly MPs were suspended, they staged overnight 'dharna'
A day after the bedlam, eight MPs were suspended by Chairman Venkaiah Naidu, who said the behavior of members was dreadful. He worried as to what would have happened to Singh had guards not been there. Thereafter, the suspended MPs staged a protest inside the Parliament complex and spent the night near the Mahatma Gandhi statue. They also rejected Singh's "tea diplomacy" on Tuesday.
At least four laws were broken, said Derek
Speaking on last Sunday's episode, Derek told IE, "Between us, Siva and I have 30 years of experience in Parliament. We knew we had moved motions, we had our headsets on. Of course, we were at our seats. Our calls for 'division' (voting) were brazenly ignored multiple times." He said at least four Parliamentary rules were broken. Derek said he shouted "division" from the seat.
Separately, Siva also blamed Singh for not "looking at him"
"The Select Committee was our core issue. I was very much in my seat and I shouted division several times. He (Deputy Chairman) didn't look at me. Only when he looks at me he will know that I am asking for it," Siva said.
On allegations of ignoring opposition, sources said Singh was "distracted"
Defending the opposition's demand for postponing, Ragesh said, "Since half the Rajya Sabha members were sitting in Lok Sabha, electronic voting would not be possible. Voting can be done only through paper ballot. So voting even once would have taken at least 30 minutes." Meanwhile, secretariat sources told IE Singh was "distracted" as members rushed to him and he was ensuring papers aren't snatched.