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Hopes of a peaceful Rajya Sabha session dashed

Source: PTI
April 21, 2013 16:45 IST
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After a chaotic first part of the Budget session, an all-party meeting convened on Sunday to ensure smooth proceedings in Rajya Sabha in the remaining phase failed to evolve a consensus on measures like automatic suspension for disciplining members and deferred telecast.

The meeting held on the eve of the resumption of the Budget session was convened by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari and attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with senior members from various parties.

Referring to the unruly scenes on the last day of part one of the Budget session on March 23 when AIADMK members broke mikes and hurled papers while raising the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, Ansari said he has called the meeting in agony and distress over the incident, sources said.

He said there was a feeling outside of collective shame and hooliganism following the incident and suggested deferred telecast of proceedings and naming members who troop into the Well of the House in Rajya Sabha bulletin, the sources said.

Ansari also said he was initiating consultations on automatic suspension of members for creating disorder. Though Rajya Sabha has rules in this regard, they have rarely been exercised.

Speaking at the meeting, Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House Arun Jaitley said the House will run on the sense of responsibility of the members.

On the issue of automatic suspension, Jaitley said it could lead to a situation where minority becomes majority. He said the government could use the situation to get the contentious bills passed, the sources said.

Derek O'Brien of Trinamool Congress said the suggestion of deferred live telecast was not practical and would not address the problem. He said if situation goes beyond control, then the cameras telecasting the proceedings could be turned off.

"...But there is no question of stopping the telecast. None of us would agree. The public has right to know what is happening in the House," CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury told reporters after the meeting.

Yechury said there is a technical problem as rules of both the Houses say that the Chair can expunge remarks that are unparliamentary.

"That can be done by the print media but with the electronic media, there is no such arrangement. There is a problem there. But how do we solve it," he said.

On the issue of automatic suspension, he said the Chairman raised the question whether the time has come to exercise the rules.

"We categorically said that most of the disruptions happen because the government does not say anything on important issues. Now, tomorrow the issue of report about Law Minister's interference in CBI report on Coalgate will come up. Had the Government come up with a statement, this issue would cause disruptions. The response of the government also determines the extent to which disruptions will take place," he explained.

In the meeting, AIADMK's V Maitreyan said if the government is insensitive to the demands of the opposition, then the latter could not be blamed for disruptions, the sources said.

Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut was critical of the suggestions on deferred telecast and automatic suspension, saying "such meetings will not help in anyway. The government cannot suppress the voice of opposition and the media by stopping direct telecast. Why will you stop it? You cannot tie the opposition inside the House."

He said there is no need to get strict inside the House. "The government needs to get strict outside where people are on streets protesting."

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