NEW DELHI, March 15 (PTI): Lok Sabha proceedings were adjourned for the day on Wednesday amid slogan shouting by opposition and treasury benches over Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s “democracy under attack” remark made in the UK.
As soon as the house assembled, opposition members stormed into the well holding placards and shouting slogans. They demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the alleged stock manipulation by the Adani Group.
Members of the treasury benches also raised counter slogans, demanding an apology from Gandhi for his remarks made during an event in the UK. Gandhi had alleged that the structures of Indian democracy are under attack and there is a “full-scale assault” on the country’s institutions.
The remarks have triggered a political slugfest. The BJP has accused Gandhi of maligning India on foreign soil and seeking foreign interventions, while the Congress has hit back at the ruling party by citing instances of Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising internal politics abroad.
House proceedings have remained disrupted since resuming for the second leg of the budget session on Monday.
On Wednesday, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla repeatedly urged the members to return to their seats and allow the house to run.
“This house is meant for holding discussions and dialogues. Let’s talk about policy and a have good discussion on issues related to public welfare. If we want people’s welfare and consider this house a temple of democracy, I will request that at least don’t comment on this house,” Birla said.
“It is not right to comment, either inside (the house) or outside. Talk about issues and policy here. It is not right to bring placards like this here. I am warning. This is wrong,” he said.
The Speaker’s remarks came against the backdrop of Gandhi’s allegations that Opposition is not allowed to speak in the house and their microphones are turned off.
“Placards and sloganeering is never allowed in the house. Go back to your seats. I will give you adequate time to speak,” Birla said.
Rising from his seat, union minister Piyush Goyal urged the speaker to suspend the members from the proceedings if they do not allow the house to run smoothly and if Gandhi does not apologise for his remarks.
“It is a very serious issue. Strictest action should be taken against this. The way a member of the house insults India’s Parliament going abroad. Until he doesn’t apologise and if they do not feel there was an insult and continue with such kind of behaviour, they should be suspended from the proceedings of the house,” Goyal said.
The Speaker asked the agitating opposition members if their behaviour in the house was appropriate.
“This is (India) world’s biggest democracy. What message do you want to send out? Is such conduct of members appropriate? Please go back to your seats” Birla said.
“You have right to raise slogans with placards in hand outside the house in democracy,” he added
As the members refused to relent, the speaker initially adjourned the house till 2 pm. When the house resumed, the sloganeering continued even as Bhartruhari Mahtab, who was in the chair, kept requesting for order.
“It is not the sole responsibility of the chair to maintain order in this house. It is the responsibility of every member,” Mahtab said.
He also said that while papers were allowed in the house, placards weren’t.
Amid the ruckus, The Inter-Services (Command, Control and Discipline) Bill, 2023 was introduced in the house by minister of state for defence Ajay Bhatt.
Slogans such as “Rahul Gandhi sadan me aao (Rahul Gandhi come to Parliament)” were raised as parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi sought an apology from Gandhi. Joshi said instead of apologising, the Congress party was bringing placards to the house.
“I am getting calls from the diaspora that Rahul Gandhi insulted the country. He has spoken against the speaker. He has levelled allegations against institutions. India is a sovereign country and asking other countries to intervene is an insult,” he said.
Seconds after the statement made by the minister, the chair adjourned the house for the day.