Press Trust of india

High drama during passage of anti-terror bill

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New Delhi, Jul 24 :  The Lok Sabha Wednesday witnessed high-voltage drama for about half an hour when AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi demanded division at the time of passage of the amendments to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

The demand of division on the anti-terror bill by Owaisi at a time when the Opposition benches were almost empty with Congress and Trinamool Congress having walked out, evoked sharp reaction from the treasury benches.

Accusing Owaisi of trying to waste time, the ruling party members urged him not to insist on division. Then heated exchanges were witnessed between Owaisi and members of NDA.

Even Pinaki Misra of BJD said rules should be amended to prevent a single member from demanding division and there should be a requirement of 10 per cent.

Several other members including P P Chaudhury and Rajiv Pratap Rudy (both BJP) too objected to Owaisi’s demand for division.

“It is my right… Who are you to object…House belongs to everyone”, insisted Owaisi, refusing to yield.

With no option left, Speaker Om Birla pressed the process of division which was conducted through paper ballots. The electronic voting machine could not used as members have not been allotted division numbers.

The government’s resolution was adopted by an impressive margin with 287 in favour and eight against, though it took time for the Lok Sabha staff to distribute and collect ballot papers.

The passage of the amendment bill hit yet another hurdle, when Owaisi repeated his demand for division on an unofficial amendment moved by him.

“You are demanding it unnecessarily…” said Birla.

“I have a right (to demand division),” insisted Owaisi.

In an apparent bid to save time, Birla invoked rules which provide for counting of numbers by making members stand during the voting process.

As Owaisi kept on insisting on division, the members had to stand up for counting of numbers. It happened thrice during the process of passage of the amendment bill, though each time the opposition member’s amendments were defeated by huge margin.

“I have made the whole government stand up,” said an elated Owaisi.

“We are ready to stand against terrorism. We are standing against terrorism,” retorted Anurag Thakur, Minister of State for Finance.

The bill was later passed by the Lok Sabha.

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