NEW DELHI: The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday was rocked by Opposition protests against an online petition, whose signatories included top businessmen, claiming that it was an affront against the dignity of the House.
The online signature campaign had garnered over 15,000 names since its launch on Sunday, with leading industrialists, including Adi Godjrej, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, G V Sanjaya Reddy, Kris Gopalakrishnan, Pawan Munjal, Rahul Bajaj and Banmali Agrawala among them. Raising the matter during the Zero Hour, Janta Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav said that the signature campaign shows that the “ accession that you have been brought to power by ‘thailishahis’ (moneybags) is vindicated”. “How have they got the audacity to question, to tell Parliament how to function?” he thundered.
Immediately, Leader of the House Arun Jaitley got to his feet and asked, “Doesn’t those who voted for want Parliament to function?”
“Please remember that you have to answer them. You are accused of being a roadblock in the functioning of democracy in this country,” Jaitley said.
Yadav tried to defend that even the Opposition wants the House to function, but Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi countered, “Please see who is creating noise every day, who is stopping Parliament.”
When the House reassembled for the Question Hour, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad gave his support to Sharad Yadav, stating that the matter was related to the “prestige of the House”.
“This is a matter of the dignity of the Members of Parliament and Parliament itself. The government is not only using the media against the Congress, but the corporate sector as well,” said Azad. CPM member Sitaram Yechury pointedly noted that businessmen had for the first time expressed interest in the proper functioning of the Parliament. “We want the House to function and if somebody were expressing their interest, especially the businessmen, that too for the first time, it is okay. But they cannot interfere with our work,” he said. Yechury demanded that just like the Lok Sabha, there should be a discussion on the allegations against government ministers with voting.
Outside Parliament, Congress leader Manish Tewari asked where the corporate sector’s concern was when the BJP had wiped out sessions during the previous UPA Government’s rule.