Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday criticised Opposition parties for the protests in the Rajya Sabha over agriculture bills and said their actions had tainted the image of Parliament in front of the entire country. Singh called the leaders’ behaviour saddening, unfortunate and shameful.
Chaos descended in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday as the critical bills on the agricultural sector were up for vote. At one point, the telecast of the proceedings was muted as members of opposition parties gathered inside the well of the House in protest. After a short adjournment, deputy chairperson Harivansh Narayan Singh took up the bills, clause by clause, and passed them. But demonstrations continued inside the Rajya Sabha even after the session ended as the deputy chairperson had not agreed for a division of votes.
At a press conference held hours after the session, Rajnath Singh criticised the opposition leaders for their behaviour and said their unprecedented “drama” was an “attempt to confuse farmers”. “As far as I know, this has never happened in the history of Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha,” the defence minister said. “This happening in Rajya Sabha is an even bigger matter. Attempts are being made to mislead the farmers on the basis of rumours.”
“What happened in Rajya Sabha today was saddening, unfortunate and shameful,” Rajnath Singh said. “It is the responsibility of the ruling side to enable discussions in the House but it is also the duty of the Opposition to maintain decorum.”
The defence minister added: “I’m also a farmer, never believe government will hurt farmers.”
Besides Rajnath Singh, Union ministers Prakash Javadekar, Prahlad Joshi, Piyush Goyal, Thawarchand Gehlot and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi were also present at the press conference.
During the tumultuous session, opposition leaders alleged the deputy chairperson ploughed the rules and hurriedly moved on to a voice note because the government did not have the requisite numbers for passage of the bills. More than 45 opposition MPs have also filed a no-confidence motion against Harivansh Narayan Singh.
However, Rajnath Singh rejected the accusations and said the opposition had hurt the dignity of Parliament by making such statements. “Let’s assume what they are saying is correct, that they weren’t heard, but even then is it okay to behave in a violent manner or to climb the chair or break the microphone?” Rajnath Singh asked. “Their behaviour towards the deputy chairperson has hurt the dignity of Parliament and is a reflection on themselves.”
During the protests against the ordinances, some MPs reportedly broke the microphones on the chairperson’s desk and were seen tearing sheets of paper and throwing them around. While Derek O’Brien from the TMC was caught waving the rule book at the chair, Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh was escorted out by the marshals later, according to the Hindustan Times.
Rajya Sabha Chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu is expected to take a call on the action to be taken against the opposition MPs who trooped into the well of the House. Unidentified officials told the Hindustan Times that the chair had called a meeting with the parliamentary affairs minister to discuss the issue.