The passage of the Telangana Bill in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday will be remembered for a long time for reasons other than the approval given for the creation of the 29th state. If it was the havoc created by pepper spray on the day the Bill was introduced, it was the blackout of the Lok Sabha TV on Tuesday that marked its passage. It seems both the incidents are inter-connected. Worried over the impact of the pepper spray incident, Speaker Meira Kumar did not want to take any chances when the contentious Bill was passed.
According to sources, it was “plainly communicated” to the Lok Sabha TV personnel that the telecast of the proceedings should be discontinued when the T-Bill came up for voting in the House at around 3 pm.
Quite perturbed over the public impact of the scuffles on the floor of the House, Kumar issued strict instruction that she did not want “rowdy behaviour’’ of the protesting Seemandhra MPs to be telecast to a national audience. Former Speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s views on the matter were dusted out of the cupboard to take the decision. It was found that Chatterjee too had given similar instructions after wads of cash had been carried inside the house and flashed before the TV cameras during the infamous 2008 trust vote.
The MPs, it has been found, often indulge in disruptive behaviour for the benefit of their constituencies to show that they were not inactive in the house. “It had then been decided that cameras would focus on the Speaker when the MPs rush to the Well. But now that the MPs have become wiser, they crowd around the Speaker’s table to be seen on TV. Hence we had no other option but to switch off transmission,’’ the source added.
The Lok Sabha TV is an autonomous body, which comes under the purview of the Speaker and not the government.
Later in the evening the LS TV CEO issued a clarification stating, “It is unfortunate that people were unable to watch the live telecast of the passage of this (Telangana) Bill, which was done democratically.”
“The media was present in full strength in the Press Gallery at all times to witness and report how the events unfolded. All the proceedings are on record and in the public domain,” he added. In other words, it cannot be called a “blackout’’.
Meanwhile, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said that the T-Bill will be taken up in the Rajya Sabha “immediately’’. The Secretary General of the Upper House is expected to report the message on the Bill as passed by the Lok Sabha at around 12 noon on Wednesday. Thereafter, the Bill with 32 official amendments as passed by the LS will have to be readied by the government for circulation among members of the RS.
54 Members Retire
The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday bid adieu to 54 members, who will complete their six-year term in a couple of months.
“...today, we bid farewell to some of our colleagues, who are retiring in the months of April and May this year on completion of their term of office,” Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari said on Tuesday.
Out of the 54 retirees, 15 members have been re-elected to the Upper House.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said some of the members will not be coming back to the House and hoped they will continue to contribute through their public lives.
The senior BJP leader recalled that there may be political differences, but the members rarely laboured personal vendetta.