Ruckus in Rajasthan Assembly as BJP seeks debate on phone-tapping row

The BJP created a ruckus in the Rajasthan Assembly on Tuesday, demanding an immediate debate on the phone-tapping row and prompting the suspension of a party MLA from the House for seven days.

Accusing the government of tapping phones of public representatives, the BJP moved two adjournment motions to discuss the issue.

The BJP MLAs held a dharna in the well of the House after Speaker C P Joshi rejected the adjournment motions.

Party MLA Madan Dilawar was suspended from the House for seven days for unruly behaviour after he interrupted an Independent legislator and had an argument with him.

Reacting to the ruckus, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in the evening accused the Opposition party of creating “unnecessary disturbance” and said he had already made a statement over the issue in the Assembly last year.

The BJP had on Monday demanded the resignation of Gehlot on moral grounds after his government said in a reply to a question in the state Assembly that it taps phones in the interest of public safety and order.

Though the reply of the government did not specify whose phones were tapped, the BJP linked it to the phone tapping controversy that erupted during the political crisis created by the rebellion of former deputy CM Sachin Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs against the leadership of Gehlot last year.

Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore and BJP MLA Kalicharan Saraf had moved the adjournment motions during the Zero Hour.

The motion moved by Saraf was about the situation created due to the breach of privacy of people because of phone tapping. Rathore’s motion was about the breach of privacy due to phone tapping of elected public representatives, MLAs, MPs and union ministers.

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The Speaker rejected the motions on the ground that there was no mention whose privacy was breached. Joshi said in the adjournment motions, there was no name and specific details.

“There is no clarity about whose privacy has been breached. I have rejected the motions and there cannot be a debate on the ruling of the speaker,” he said.

The Speaker asked the BJP MLAs to give facts in support of their claim and said he will forward the facts to the government, who will give a reply today itself.

When the Speaker did not allow the BJP MLAs to speak, they created an uproar and stormed to the well of the House.

The House was adjourned four times today due to the uproar.

Meanwhile, BJP MLA Madan Dilawar was suspended from the Assembly after he approached and interrupted Independent MLA Sanyam Lodha, who was speaking on demands for grants for education, art and culture.

Lodha objected to Dilawar’s behaviour, following which Speaker C P Joshi warned the BJP MLA. As Dilawar did not pay any heed to him, Joshi asked Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shanti Dhariwal to bring a proposal to suspend the legislator.

Dhariwal moved a proposal to suspend Dilawar from the proceedings of the House for seven days which was passed by voice vote.

BJP MLAs protesting in the Well of the House formed a human chain around Dilawar to stop him from being escorted out by marshals.

The Speaker then adjourned the House for 30 minutes. It was the fourth adjournment of the day.

Reacting to the ruckus in the House, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot in a Facebook post said he had already made a statement over the issue in the Assembly on August 14 last year.

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He posted the transcript of his statement and his talks with the media on July 17 and 20.

He accused the BJP of creating “unnecessary” issues due to an “internal fighting” in the party. It is an attempt to disturb the House unnecessarily, he commented.

In his address to the Assembly on August 14, Gehlot had denied the charge and had said there has never been a tradition of illegal phone tapping of MLAs or MPs in Rajasthan.

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