NEW DELHI: Facing opposition ire after he disallowed their adjournment notices, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu today said his intention behind long adjournments was to promote a sense of collective responsibility among members to minimise forced disruptions.
He also expressed concern over the "negative public perception" that was being created by these disruptions which were adversely impacting the image and credibility of the House.
Naidu's remarks came after the Rajya Sabha was adjourned twice till late afternoon today due to protests by opposition members including those from the Congress and the Trinamool Congress, who alleged that their voice was being "muzzled".
Later, they boycotted the remaining day's proceedings and also wrote to the Chairman expressing their anguish. They were protesting apparently against the adjournment of the House straight till 2 PM, minutes after it had assembled at 11 AM, thereby doing away with the Zero Hour and the entire Question Hour when issues of public importance are raised.
Naidu said he was committed to allow all members to raise any issue as per rules and procedures and "none should have any misgiving about that."
Apparently pointing to the opposition leaders, he said some members have not properly understood his concern and anguish over the functioning of the House.
"My intention in doing so is to promote a sense of collective responsibility in minimising or doing away with such forced frequent disruptions. When members and parties realise that they would ultimately be the losers of such disruptions and adjournments, they would talk to each other and enable better functioning of the house," he said in the House in the afternoon.
"I realise some members have perhaps not properly understood my concern and anguish over the functioning of the House. I would like to reiterate again that it would be my commitment to allow any issue to be raised by anybody as per rules and procedures and nobody should have any misgivings about that," he said.
The Rajya Sabha Chairman said he was deeply concerned with the "negative public perception of this august House" on account of forced adjournments and that too quite frequently over the years.
Noting that the disruptions "frequently follow a pattern", he said it was aimed at not allowing the House to function smoothly, come what may.
Elaborating on the pattern of disruptions, Naidu said he has admitted a total of 42 zero hour admissions during the last three working days and observed that of these, only one member could make a submission.
"Another aspect of this pattern is that first zero hour is disrupted and then even question hour when the members get an opportunity to question the government, that is also disrupted," he said.
The Chairman pointed out that on many occasions over the years, the House gets adjourned several times between 11 am and 1.00 pm.
"In this era of TV explosion, such frequent adjournments are adversely impacting the image and credibility of this house," Naidu said.
"In this backdrop, I thought it would be better to adjourn the House for a longer period instead of resorting to frequent adjournments. That too, when it becomes evident that some sections of the House were bent on not allowing smooth conduct of the House," he said.
Naidu said he discussed this concern with Deputy Chairman P J Kurien earlier in the day and later with the floor leaders of parties and urged them to ensure smooth conduct of the proceedings.
"I also told the leaders that if proceedings were disrupted at the start, I would be left with no option but to adjourn the House till lunch," he said.
Naidu poured out his anguish hours after opposition members led by Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and Derek O'Brien of TMC protested over the long adjournments.
They also did not agree to Dy Speaker Kurien's suggestion to meet the the Chairman in his chamber and resolve the deadlock. "I would request you to be in he Chairman's Chamber.
I cannot resolve (the issue) here," said Kurien.
But, O'Brien pressed for an open debate in the House, saying "Whatever has happened at 11.10 AM did not happen in the chamber, but here only."
Azad said the Chairman's action was against the established rules, regulation and procedures and alleged that "nobody can run the House according to his whims".
"Let every one speak for one minute only," he said, adding "our voice is muzzled outside and even inside."
Several other opposition members were also on their feet, demanding debate over a notice moved under rule 267 that was earlier rejected by the Chair.