Delay in filling up of vacancies in statutory commissions for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, backward classes and minorities rocked proceedings of Rajya Sabha for the second day on Tuesday, with the proceedings being adjourned thrice before lunch.
The Congress, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Janata Dal-United members repeatedly trooped into the Well of the House shouting slogans against the government for ‘misleading’ by telling ‘lies’ on the issue.
Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu tried to counter them, saying all the commissions were functioning and the process of filling up the vacancies was on.
Deputy Chairman P J Kurien tried to restore order in the House saying the minister has promised that vacancies will be filled up ‘immediately’, but Naidu countered him saying the vacancies will be filled up in ‘due course’ of time.
Kurien first adjourned the proceedings for 10 minutes and then till noon and opposition members were unrelenting. When the House assembled for Question Hour at noon, Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the proceedings for 30 minutes as the noisy scenes continued.
When the House assembled for the day, opposition members were up on their feet stating that multiple notices have been given under rule 267 seeking suspension of business to take up the issue.
Ramgopal Yadav (SP) said the posts of chairmen, vice chairmen and members were lying vacant in National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Backward Classes and National Commission for Minorities.
This has left people seeking relief for their difficulties from these commissions high-and-dry, he said, adding that the commission for backward classes was being renamed to take a fresh look at castes which should be categorised as OBCs.
He alleged that there was a conspiracy to remove certain castes from OBC category. He went on to question the vacancies against the reserved categories in government departments.
Mayawati (BSP) asked why the BJP government had left several posts at these constitutional commissions vacant for a long time and when these posts will be filled up.
Naidu rose to respond but the opposition wanted leaders from other parties to speak first before the minister had his say.
But Kurien said the minister has a right to respond and allowed Naidu to speak.
Anguished over this, opposition members trooped into the Well of the House shouting anti-government slogans.
Amid the din, Naidu said the backward class commission chairman has welcomed the changes made and it was a political strategy of the opposition to convey a ‘wrong impression’ to the people.
"All commissions are functioning. Process of filling up vacancies is on. They will be filled up," he said.
With the opposition members continuing to shout slogans from the Well, Kurien adjourned the proceedings of the House for 10 minutes.
When it reassembled, opposition members were up on their feet again but Kurien said an important matter was raised and he knew that other members too wanted to speak but had allowed the minister to clarify after two members had spoken.
"I know the rules. I did not prevent (anyone from speaking). After the minister's explanation some of your apprehensions will get over," he said.
"Hon’ble minister has said all vacancies will be immediately filled up."
At this Naidu said, "Vacancies will be filled up in due course of time."
He said the allegations against the government questioning its intention will not be allowed.
Kurien then allowed Sharad Yadav (JD-U), who too had given a rule 267 notice, to speak but this time, the BJP members from the treasury benches started raising slogans.
This prompted the opposition members to troop into the Well again.
Just as they entered the Well, a visiting Namibian parliamentary delegation took seat in the special gallery.
Kurien stopped the slogan-shouting members and then read out a statement welcoming the delegation, even as the opposition members remained in the Well.
As he finished the statement, slogan-shouting began again, forcing him to adjourn the House till noon.
The House witnessed similar scenes during Question Hour again, as protesting opposition MPs did not pay heed to the appeals by Chairman Hamid Ansari to restore order, forcing him to adjourn the proceedings till 12.30 pm.
When the House reassembled, noisy scenes were again witnessed. JD-U leader Sharad Yadav was heard saying it was very important that a discussion should be held.
Ansari again requested the agitated members that they should allow the Question Hour to proceed. "Don't make fun of the procedures," an anguished chairman said.
However, opposition members insisted that the House wanted a discussion on the matter.
Members of the opposition parties then rushed to the Well of the House, shouting slogans like ‘Jumlebaazi nahi chalegi (hollow statements will not do)’.
Amidst the din, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said there were elections to five states and appointments could not have been made then. He said the government was willing to provide details.
As the din continued and no solution appeared in sight, Ansari adjourned the House till 2 pm hours.
Sharad Yadav, who sought to raise the issue of vacancies in teaching for reserved classes, said, “It is a very serious issue. In 70 years, I want to tell you what is the state of affairs in the country.”
He said the posts for reserved classes in various educational institutions were far less than the quota.
He raised the issues of DelhiUniversity, JawaharlalNehruUniversity and other institutions where the teachers were far less than required.
While Yadav was citing figures to buttress his point, Congress members trooped into the Well raising slogans.
Chairman Hamid Ansari’s pleas for allowing the Question Hour to function fell on deaf ears.
Congress members raised slogans like ‘jumlebaazi nahin chalegi’, while the treasury benches also raised slogans to counter the opposition uproar.