The Rajya Sabha on Friday was adjourned for the day after Opposition members protested against the controversial Rafale jet deal. The Upper House has not taken up any official work since Parliament met for the Budget Session on January 31.
A report in The Hindu on Friday claimed that the Defence Ministry had objected to “parallel negotiations” with France conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office in 2015 over the jet deal.
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad sought to raise the matter in the House but Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu rejected it. Naidu said he has reserved a final judgement on the notice by Congress members under Rule 267 on the matter.
However, when Azad continued to speak about the Rafale deal, other Opposition members joined in. After some of them indulged in sloganeering, Naidu adjourned the proceedings of the House till Monday.
About reservation for faculties in universities, Union minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar said the Centre will bring in an ordinance or a Bill if the Supreme Court rejects its review petition on the quotas.
Last month, the Supreme Court upheld an Allahabad High Court ruling that reservation in faculty posts in universities should be applied department-wise and not by treating the university as one unit. The University Grants Commission’s new policy introduced in March meant that jobs for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes would reduce.
In a brief statement amid the uproar, Javadekar said a study has been conducted to determine how the department-wise reservations to faculties will affect Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Classes in 30 universities.
The Lok Sabha was adjourned for nearly 50 minutes soon after the proceedings of the House began. Members of the Congress, the Left, the Trinamool Congress and the Telugu Desam Party stormed into the Well of the House holding placards of the media report about the Rafale deal and shouted slogans. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan then adjourned the House till 12 pm.
However, protests continued as soon as the House reconvened at noon. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made a suo motu statement and accused the newspaper of “flogging a dead horse”, The Indian Express reported.
Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge sought a joint parliamentary committee probe into the Rafale deal. “Everything will be revealed then, we don’t want any explanation now,” he said amid protests. “We have heard many explanations, from the prime minister also.”
The House was adjourned till 2 pm. After it reconvened, Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy attacked the government over the Rafale deal. However, Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the government had debated the matter in Lok Sabha and rebutted the Opposition’s allegations. He added it was not good to stall Lok Sabha proceedings.
The Lok Sabha also took up the discussion on the Interim Budget, with BJP MP Anurag Thakur describing it as “pro-poor, pro-farmers, pro-middle class, and pro-growth”.
As many as 29 private member bills were introduced in the House, PTI reported. Samajwadi Party MP Tej Pratap Singh Yadav tabled a bill seeking measures against creation and distribution of fake news in the media. BJP MP Udit Raj introduced a bill to provide strict punishment to curb atrocities against children and women, rehabilitation measures for such victims, and setting up special courts to try these cases.