- Gets emotional with the attitude of the opposition
- Says sacrilege was committed breaching sanctum sanctorum
Vice president of India and chairman of Rajya Sabha M. Venkaiha Naidu breaking down on Wednesday in anguish at the way the House has been stalled by the opposition for days together was unprecedented in India’s parliamentary history. There were unceremonious scenes even in the past when the BJP was in opposition and the time of the parliament was getting wasted, but none of the presiding officers behaved the way Venkaiah Naidu had done. Naidu is a senior leader who has been a member of upper house of parliament for more than four terms. He was a witness to a number of such unsavory scenes in the past. He got emotional today and gave vent to his anguish.
While reading out a statement condemning the “sacrilege” and violation of “temple of democracy” by the opposition, Venkaiah Naidu broke down saying “entering sanctum sanctorum of House amounts to sacrilege.” Opposition members on Tuesday climbed the officials’ table at the centre of Rajya Sabha waving black cloths and throwing files. Venkaiah Naidu said he could not sleep last night. He described the officials’ table as sanctum sanctorum of the temple of democracy and said, “I am distressed by the way the sacredness was destroyed yesterday. When some members sat on the table, some members climbed on the table of the house, perhaps to be more visible with such acts of sacrilege.”
“I have no words to convey my anguish and to condemn such acts as I spent a sleepless night..last night,” the chairman said. Then he broke down and had got choked up. He resumed after some time saying,”I struggle to find out the reason or provocation for forcing this august house to hit such a low yesterday.” Of course, it was not very difficult to find out the reason knowing the attitude of the government in not agreeing to debate on Pegasus issue and the farm laws.
Jairam Ramesh, opposition Congress member tweeted, “Presiding officers in Parliament are supposed to be neutral umpires, not partisan players. They cannot present a totally one-sided picture of goings on in the House and further aggravate the situation. Misplaced emotions lead to commotion.”
The monsoon session of Parliament which began on 19 July has been disrupted time and again by the opposition which has been demanding debate on Pegasus spyware and the farmers’ prolonged protests against the farm laws. Lok Sabha Speaker OM Birla addressing the media said, “I am pained that the house did not run smoothly. House functioned only for 21 hours and 14 minutes. 20 Bills were passed in Lok Sabha.” Which means there was not much discussion on the Bills before they were passed. May be it suited the government. The only occasion when both the ruling party and the opposition were together was at the time of passing of a constitution amendment bill intended to give powers back to the States to identify the backward classes (OBCs).
Pratap Singh Bajwa, the Congress member who stood on the officials’ bench in the Rajya Sabha yesterday and also threw the rule book at the chair explained that the intention of throwing the rule book was asking the chair to follow the book by letter and spirit and conduct the House in a meaningful way. Venkaiah Naidu said, “I was very sad and deeply anguished.” The Vice President asked the members to seriously reflect on their behavior. The opposition leaders said the chairman was speaking for the government and he has not been fair. He should be neutral, they insisted.
Naidu said the opposition had missed a golden opportunity yesterday (Tuesday) to discuss the issues, record their opinions and vote against or for the bills. “You cannot force the government to do this or not to do this. It is for the government to act,” said Venkaiah. He was seen supporting the adamant attitude of the government in refusing to debate on serious issues like Pegasus and farm laws. While the governments of France and Israel decided to get the Pegasus issues probed, the Indian government is not prepared even to talk about it.
When pandemonium broke in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday vice-chairman Bhubaneswar Kalita was in chair. Sanjay Singh of Aam Admi Party climbed the table right below the presiding officer’s chair and starting chanting slogans against farm laws. Kalita adjourned the House.