Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha adjourned for day again over Rahul Gandhi's remarks in UK

Gandhi had recently alleged in London that the structures of Indian democracy are under brutal attack and there is a full-scale assault on the institutions of the country.
New Delhi: Opposition MPs protest in the well of the Lok Sabha during Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi. (File Photo | PTI)
New Delhi: Opposition MPs protest in the well of the Lok Sabha during Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi. (File Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI: The row over Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's remarks in Britain seeking the intervention of the US and European nations over "disappearing" democracy in India disrupted the Lok Sabha for the second consecutive day on Tuesday.

Soon after the house assembled, BJP members raised slogans seeking an apology from Rahul Gandhi, while the Congress-led opposition waved placards with quotes from speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visits abroad.

"Rahul Gandhi maafi mango (Rahul Gandhi apologise)," BJP members shouted repeatedly from their seats. Some ministers, too, were on their feet. Opposition members raised slogans from the aisles and avoided trooping into the well of the house. BRICS ka 'I' ludak raha hai (The 'I' in BRICS is tottering)," read one placard referring to the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa grouping.

"Pata nahi pehle janam main kya paap kiya tha, Hindustan main paida hua (Don't know what sin I had committed that I was born in India)," read another placard waved by a Congress member quoting the prime minister's speech in Seoul in May 2015.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla tried to take up the Question Hour and appealed to the members to uphold the dignity of the house.

Asking the Congress members, who were on their feet, to maintain decorum of the house and not show placards, Birla said they should let the Lok Sabha function.

"I will give the opportunity to raise issues after Question Hour. Question Hour is an important part of parliamentary proceedings. I will give you adequate opportunities, but after Question Hour. I urge you to return to your seats. I will allow every topic to be raised as per the rules," Birla said.

However, Congress members continued their protest following which the speaker adjourned the house till 2 pm.

After resumption of the house, papers and standing committee reports were presented in the amid the ruckus.

The house was adjourned for the day within 10 minutes.

Gandhi recently alleged in London that the structures of Indian democracy are under brutal attack and there is a full-scale assault on the institutions of the country.

Demanding an apology from Gandhi for his remarks, the ruling BJP charged that the Congress leader has tried to defame India.

Lok Sabha proceedings were disrupted on Monday too, as the BJP-Congress slugfest escalated over Gandhi's remark.

The government sought an apology while the opposition benches demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Adani-Hindenburg issue.

RS proceedings hit

Rajya Sabha proceedings were adjourned for the day again on Tuesday with the opposition parties objecting to the government's demand for an apology from Rahul Gandhi.

When the Upper House reassembled at 2 pm after an earlier adjournment, Union minister and Leader of the House Piyush Goyal, without taking Gandhi's name, reiterated the government's stance that he must apologise over his remarks.

"I believe this is a very serious issue over which the entire country and members are angry...the defamation of Parliament, the way in which the country's pride has been hurt," he said.

Goyal alleged that attempt was made to ruin India's image by attacking the country from abroad and spreading misconceptions about its Parliament.

"This is a very serious issue. He must apologise over this in the Parliament," Goyal reiterated.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar responded that he has interacted with Leader of the Opposition and Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge, who had on Monday objected to Goyal's demand citing two previous rulings by raising a point of order.

"I am seized of the matter. I had indicated I will give my order today. I have had the benefit of interaction with the Leader of Opposition today. I have also had the benefit of interacting with senior members of the main opposition party and the treasury benches also," Dhankhar said, adding a meeting of the floor leaders has been called over the matter in the afternoon.

Terming the issue as critical, Dhankhar said a final view on it was necessary as it would define what "we can debate (and) what we cannot". "We have examined the situation. The constitutional provisions, the rules we have framed, the directives that have been imparted by earlier chairmen," the Rajya Sabha chairman observed.

"We are meeting the floor leaders today at 2. 30 pm and I am sure you will get my ruling at the earliest, maybe during the course of the day or tomorrow (Wednesday)," Dhankhar added.

He said the directives imparted in the Lok Sabha have also been looked at.

Following this, Minister for Labour and Employment Bhupender Yadav said the issue raised by Rahul Gandhi in London pertains to Parliament which includes both Houses.

"Therefore, if any person deliberately attempts to stop the Parliament's proceedings, to defame Parliament. Certainly it is a matter of defamation and he must apologise to the nation," he added.

Amid members raising slogans in the House, Chairman Dhankhar adjourned the House for the day.

Earlier in the day, Rajya Sabha proceedings were adjourned till 2 pm after opposition members created uproar over the government's demand for an apology from Gandhi for his remarks.

The Upper House, which saw members cutting across party lines earlier during the session to congratulate India's Oscar winners, soon witnessed noisy scenes when Union minister Goyal, without naming Gandhi, alleged that he had insulted the Parliament and constitutional institutions and said he should tender an apology.

Before Goyal was given the floor, Chairman Dhankhar rejected notices under Rule 267 by Congress members Pramod Tiwari, K C Venugopal, Kumar Ketkar, Neeraj Danghi, Akhilesh Prasad Singh, Syed Naseer Hussain and Amee Yajnik to discuss the government's failure to constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee to investigate the charges of fraud, corruption and financial mismanagement by Adani Group companies.

Dhankhar also rejected notices by the BRS' K Kesava Rao and AAP's Sanjay Singh to discuss the Hindenburg report on Adani Enterprises and other group companies, along with demands for discussions on the post-poll violence in Tripura and prohibition of online gambling and regulation of online games in Tamil Nadu by other members.

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