High drama continued in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for the third straight day of the monsoon session today as opposition MPs staged protests over a range of issues, including the Pegasus snooping controversy and today’s I-T raids on media houses. In the Rajya Sabha, Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw was forced to cut short his statement on the row by the uproar among opposition members.
As soon as Mr Vaishnaw rose to speak on Pegasus, Trinamool MP Shantanu Sen snatched his papers, tore, and flung them at Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh. This forced the minister to lay the paper on the table instead.
Heated words were exchanged between Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and the Trinamool MP. Marshals had to intervene to bring the situation under control.
The Rajya Sabha was later adjourned till tomorrow, the third time through the day. It was first adjourned till 12 noon and then till 2 pm after MPs trooped into the well of the House raising slogans and holding placards. “Members seem to be not interested in discussing people’s issues,” Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said, adjourning the proceedings earlier in the day.
Mr Sen said after the house was adjourned, Mr Puri threatened him and “was about to attack me physically”. “My colleagues came to my rescue. This was very unfortunate,” Mr Sen said.
RJD member Manoj Jha later said the IT minister’s attitude was “unfortunate”.
“The way the IT Minister made a statement amidst the uproar, it seems that the government only wanted to make a mockery of this issue,” Mr Jha said.
Neither did the Lok Sabha have an uninterrupted day. It was adjourned thrice, the last time till 4 pm.
Question Hour barely lasted 12 minutes before Speaker Om Birla adjourned the House till 12 noon. Bhartruhari Mahtab, who took the Chair later, adjourned it for a second time after protesting members ignored his plea to return to their seats and discuss matters.
While leaders of the Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal targeted the government on the contentious farm laws, those of the Trinamool Congress gathered near the Speaker’s podium raising the Pegasus snooping issue. They sought answers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.
The protests continued despite Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi saying the government was ready to discuss any topic. “The Rajya Sabha had a discussion on Covid…We are ready for discussion on whatever topic you want…Question Hour is a right of every member,” Mr Joshi said according to a PTI report.
The opposition members also tried to raise the matter of today’s income-tax raids on Dainik Bhaskar.
As soon as the members assembled in the Rajya Sabha, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh tried to raise the issue of the raids. Other opposition members, including those from the Trinamool, however, rushed to the well of the House over the alleged targeting of political rivals, journalists, and critics for surveillance.
“I have not permitted you. You have to seek permission from me. Nothing shall go on record,” Mr Naidu told Mr Singh, calling for the tabling of listed papers. But only one paper could be laid out before the House was adjourned amid continuing protests.