The virtual stalling of the Rajya Sabha proceedings due to Congress protests over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks against his predecessor Manmohan Singh on Thursday denied cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar his maiden attempt to speak in the House.
Tendulkar was slated to initiate a short duration discussion on the right to play and the future of sports in India, which was disrupted by the protests that led Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to adjourn the House for the day.
When the House met at 2 pm after an earlier adjournment, Naidu wanted to take up the short duration discussion to be initiated by Tendulkar.
Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal however said he had a point of order and asked whether CAG reports can be leaked to newspapers before they are tabled. “Can we summon people responsible for tarnishing those in constitutional offices on the basis of CAG reports,” he asked.
His questions were in the context of the acquittal of all 2G case accused.
He also asked whether the image of those in constitutional offices can be tarnished on the basis of CAG reports when “99 per cent of the points” raised in them get settled after they reach the Public Accounts Committee for scrutiny.
After the point of order, Naidu sought to initiate the discussion on sports saying this was Tendulkar’s maiden speech and he should be heard.
Promptly, several Congress members got up and raised the issue of the prime minister’s remarks and started raising slogans such as “Desh ko gumrah karna band karo’ (stop misleading the nation) and seeking an apology from Modi.
Naidu admonished the members, saying Tendulkar had done a lot for the country and was a ‘Bharat Ratna’ awardee.
As the Opposition members continued with their noisy protests, Naidu again chided them in his characteristic style, asking them to not shout as “all they would achieve was a hoarse throat and bad name.”
He said Tendulkar was a legendary persona and an inspiration for the youth while urging the Congress members to allow the discussion.
But as the protests continued, a livid Naidu asked Tendulkar to proceed.
However, the cricketer could only stand and watch as the determined Opposition members continue raising slogans.
Naidu said he did not want such scenes to be seen by the people on their TVs and adjourned the proceedings for the day.
Earlier when the House met for the day, Congress members shouted slogans, drowning the voices of other members and forcing Naidu to adjourn the proceedings till 2 pm, but not before he threatened to invoke rules against them and rapped them for unruly behaviour.
Leader of the Opposition and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad sought an explanation from Modi for the “false propaganda” on the 2G scam to come to power in 2014.
He said the Congress, since the past week, has been seeking an explanation from the PM over his “false” allegations against Singh during the Gujarat polls.
After the acquittal of all the 2G case accused, “we want to ask where did all the allegations (of scam) go,” he said.
The BJP had run a propaganda on the 2G spectrum scam that had helped it “move from that side (opposition side in Rajya Sabha) to this side (ruling side) and us from that side (ruling side) to this side (opposition benches),” Azad said.
Naidu said he was not allowing Azad’s submission as he had not given any notice. He also cited a May 22, 1990 ruling of then Rajya Sabha Chairman Shankar Dayal Sharma that the Chair’s ruling on not allowing suspension of a Question Hour or allowing a discussion was final.
But Congress members were in no mood to listen and rushed to the Well raising anti-Modi and anti-BJP slogans.
When some slogan-shouting Congress members moved in front of the ruling benches, Naidu castigated them for moving from the opposition side to the treasury side of the Well.
At the persuasion of Azad, the protesters then left the Well and returned to their seats but kept raising slogans, drowning the voices of members whom the Chair had called to raise Zero Hour issues.
Naidu rapped them for the unruly behaviour, saying “3/4ths of the House wants to take up Zero Hour issues. ... Please follow some decorum. I condemn your behaviour.”
“I will have to think about invoking rules. Don’t force me to do that,” he warned.
When deputy leader of the Congress Anand Sharma tried to raise a point, Naidu snapped back at him saying it was not good for a deputy leader of the party to defy the Chair.
With Congress members remaining unrelenting, he adjourned the proceedings till 2 pm.
Normally, the Chair in case of disruptions in the first hour of the sitting, adjourns proceedings till noon. But when Naidu adjourned the proceedings till 2 pm, members were surprised. Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was also seen asking officials if the proceedings have indeed been adjourned till 2 pm. Thursday, being the Question day for the Prime Minister’s Office, Modi was expected to be present during Question Hour slated at noon.