NEW DELHI: After two days of ruckus washed away all House proceedings, the Centre on Thursday agreed to hold a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the Gaza flare-up on Monday, while the Opposition wanted it at the earliest.
As soon as the Upper House assembled in the morning, Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari rejected the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s plea against the discussion. At the same time, Ansari ruled that the House couldn’t discuss the issue on Friday.
“As per the rules, the subject, having been already admitted, now requires consultation with the Leader of the House to fix the next date and time for discussion… Accordingly, in view of the provisions of rule 177, read with the communication received from the Leader of the House, the short-duration discussion on Palestine has not been listed in today’s agenda papers,” he said to howls of protest from the Opposition.
On Wednesday, Sushma wrote to Ansari that rules didn’t permit a discussion on matters which referred “discourteously” to a friendly country. This led to allegations from the Opposition benches that the Centre was leaning too far in favour of Israel.
After the Chairman’s ruling, the Congress’ Anand Sharma and CPM members protested, insisting that once a matter had been included in the list, it was the property of the House and that it would automatically move to the next day.
The CPI’s D Raja pointed out that India was already party to a strong statement on the Israeli offensive on Gaza via the BRICS declaration. “The issue is very serious. It is so serious that it figured even in the declaration of the BRICS summit attended by PM Narendra Modi. A wrong message has already gone out to the world by the silence of the Parliament,” he said.
With no possibility of any work being done, Ansari adjourned the Upper House in the Question Hour for 15 minutes.
After the House reassembled, there was a verbal face-off between the AIADMK’s V Maitreyan and Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad. Maitreyan insisted that the Question Hour should go on, saying that the UPA government hadn’t taken note when Tamil Nadu fishermen were being targeted by the Sri Lankan navy.
There were three adjournments before Vice-Chairman P J Kurien adjourned the House at 3pm for the day.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said the Centre was ready for the discussion on later date, after the Railway Budget was taken up.
Kurien had said, wielding the rulebook, that House business was listed for each day and couldn’t be automatically moved to another day.