Opposition boycotts RS proceedings for day over no discussion on India-China border issue
New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha witnessed acrimonious scenes since the start of the proceedings on Thursday as the Opposition stepped up its attack on the government demanding a discussion on the India-China border conflict and later, boycotted the day’s proceedings after the demand was disallowed.
The Opposition also demanded an apology from Leader of the House Piyush Goyal for his remarks on Bihar, which it alleged were an insult to the state and its people.
Goyal, however, later said he had no intention of hurting anyone’s feelings and withdrew his remarks.
He also cited former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s remarks made in Parliament on the unauthorised occupation of 38,000 square kilometres of India’s land by China and a part of Kashmir taken by Pakistan, alleging that “it has happened because of their mistakes”.
Goyal also taunted the Congress by raising the issue of more than Rs 1 crore received by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation from the Chinese embassy and alleged that the opposition party is responsible for the problems that the current government has inherited.
This prompted the entire Opposition to stand together and shout back at the minister.
Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar pleaded with both sides to take their seats and then directed the leader of the House and the leader of opposition to see him in his chamber at 1 pm, to which LoP Mallikarjun Kharge said things should be discussed in the House and not behind closed doors.
Amid the din, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman intervened to recall an earlier incident when Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Kiren Rijiju wanted to discuss the China issue in the House but then minister Pranab Mukherjee asked him to see him in his office instead.
This saw the Opposition staging a walkout from the House, boycotting the day’s proceedings.
Among the parties that boycotted the proceedings were the Congress, NCP, TMC, DMK, CPI, CPI(M), SP, JMM, RJD, JD(U) and AAP. However, there were some members of the AAP, TMC, and Left parties who attended the Question Hour that started at 12 noon.
The House saw sharp exchanges between the Opposition and those on the treasury benches as the members of various parties, led by the Congress, were on their feet since the start of the proceedings, demanding a discussion on the India-China border dispute.
Dhankhar said he had received 12 notices under rule 267 on various issues for suspension of the day’s business, but added that none of those was in consonance with the rules and disallowed the notices.
The Opposition members got agitated over this and demanded that the chairman should take up the important discussion on China. Kharge said the country should know what is happening at the border and it will get more united after a discussion on the issue in the House.
Repeated pleas by the chairman to the protesting Opposition members to maintain decorum and take their seats went unheeded as the latter continued to remain in the Well, shouting slogans.
“I am upset and helpless and am surprised as people across the country are telling me about what is happening in the House,” Dhankhar told the agitating members.
“I direct every member in the Well to take their seats. What you have done by coming to the Well will haunt you for ages. The oath you have taken on this solemn platform is being torn to pieces. The leader of opposition is unable to prevail upon his members to maintain decorum,” the chairman said, asking the leader of the House and the leader of opposition to see him in his chamber.
“Those members who are in the Well are forcing me to take the extreme step. I appeal to the members through the LoP not to force me to invoke the rule. If I invoke the rule, I normally do not revisit them…. My ruling is binding,” Dhankhar said.
At this, Kharge asked Dhankhar why was he getting angry as no member wanted to embarrass him and their anger was towards the government.
“On one side are rules, on the other are precedents, practices and conventions. Our anger is not against you, it is on the government. Why are you getting angry?” Kharge asked, to which the chairman said he never gets angry.
The Opposition members also demanded an apology from Goyal for his remarks, which they alleged were an “insult” to Bihar.
“We have been demanding a discussion on the border conflict with China from day one but the government is adamant. The entire Opposition has decided to boycott the day’s proceedings,” Congress leader K C Venugopal told PTI.
He also said Goyal should apologise as he has insulted Bihar and its millions of people.
Congress MP Pramod Tiwari said nothing is bigger than the country, adding that China is continuously indulging in transgressions and carrying out construction work at the border and the government is not ready to discuss the issue.
“This shows that there there is something wrong,” he said, adding that they have proof of satellite images and the government should give answers in the House.
Tiwari also said Goyal’s remarks were unfortunate as he had insulted the people of Bihar. “Why did he not apologise?” he asked.
Goyal made the remarks on Tuesday when Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP Manoj Jha was speaking during a discussion on the Appropriation Bill seeking Parliament’s nod for additional spending.
As Jha said the government should devote equal attention to the poor and corporate houses, Goyal responded saying “inka bas chale to desh ko Bihar bana dein (if they have their way, they will turn the country into Bihar).”