As ruling BJP and Opposition MPs sparred with each other over Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s ‘democracy in danger’ remark in London and over the demand for a probe on the Adani Group, the Rajya Sabha (RS) proceedings were adjourned in the pre-lunch session on Thursday (March 23).
The two sides have taken a “rigid stance” and the House is not sending a good message to the people, RS chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar said before adjourning the proceedings till 2 pm.
While BJP MPs shouted slogans in the RS demanding an apology from Gandhi, MPs from Opposition parties shouted slogans demanding a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into allegations against the Adani group.
Earlier, Dhankhar rejected 12 notices, under rule 267, seeking discussion on the allegations against Adani by setting aside the business of the day in the RS.
Congress MPs, including Pramod Tiwari, Akhilesh Prasad Singh, Jebi Mather Hisham, Rajneet Ranjan, Kumar Ketkar, Syed Nasir Hussain and Neeraj Dangi, gave notices to discuss the “governments failure to constitute a JPC to investigate the charges of corporate fraud, political corruption, stock market manipulation and financial mismanagement against the Adani Group”, he said.
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Elamaram Kareem (CPM) wanted a high-level probe monitored by the Supreme Court into the allegations made by US-based short seller Hindenburg Research against the Adani Group, he said.
Binoy Viswam (CPI), Tiruchi Siva (DMK) and Santosh Kumar P (CPI) demanded that a JPC to be constituted to probe the allegations against Adani group, he added. Meanwhile, Sanjay Singh (AAP) wanted a discussion on “fraud committed by Adani group in electricity production and distribution in Rajasthan and Maharashtra”.
“I can assure you I go through each of the notices very carefully,” Dhankhar said, adding that it is after deep deliberation that he indicated that these issues could have been raised earlier and there were avenues available where these issues could be raised.
“The resultant situation is precious time of the House which could be utilised to transact listed business in larger public interest and help us carry out our constitutional obligations, we have not been able to do so,” he said.
Dhankhar pointed out that one of the conditions for accepting a notice under rule 267 is that the issue being raised cannot be raised in any other form.
“We had four hours available on (the motion on) President’s address (to the joint sitting of the Parliament), where opportunity could have been availed. It was a pain I suffered that those four-hour discussions had to be aborted,” he said.
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He said he has held three meetings with floor leaders of different political parties in the Rajya Sabha.
“The two sides in the House have taken a rigid stance. I appeal to the entire house (that) they must interact amongst themselves and find a way out. We are not sending a good message to people at large,” he said.
Just then the ruling side erupted in slogan shouting demanding an apology from Gandhi. This was countered by the Opposition benches with slogans on JPC.
At this point, the chairman gave leader of the House and Union minister Piyush Goyal the floor. Despite all the efforts by the chair, “there is absolutely no reconciliation possible with the principal opposition party (Congress)”, Goyal said.
“I think the nation today is extremely concerned about the behaviour of their senior leader, about the comments he has made and it is important that the nation hears an apology, a due apology from the leader of the party who is responsible for causing so much discredit to the country, to the parliament, to the presiding officers of parliament,” he said without directly naming Rahul.
Leader of the Opposition and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge countered this, saying a JPC was the need of the hour to bring out the truth behind allegations against Adani.
When the two sides continued to engage in a heated verbal spat, Dhankhar ordered that nothing would go on record.
As the slogan shouting continued, he adjourned the proceedings till 2 pm.