Rajya Sabha witnessed repeated adjournments on Wednesday after members of the Congress party created a ruckus over the National Herald case for the second consecutive day. Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MPs also protested over the Polavaram project.
After three brief adjournments, Chairman Hamid Ansari suspended the house till 2pm after reassembling at 12.15pm.
Soon after the upper house of Parliament assembled in the morning, Congress members stormed Ansari’s podium raising the issue of court summons that were issued to party president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case.
The Congress members continued shouting slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of political vendetta against them. “One hundred per cent political vendetta. This is pure political vendetta coming out of the PM’s office. It is their way of doing politics… I have full faith in the legal system. We all know who is threatening the judiciary,” Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi told reporters outside parliament on Wednesday.
The BJD members protested on the issue of the Polavaram project, a multi-purpose dam in Andhra Pradesh whose reservoir spreads into parts of Odisha and Chhattisgarh. They held placards while demanding that the Polavaram Dam project is stopped immediately. In the midst of the clamour, Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien adjourned the house till 11.30 a.m.
When the house reassembled, Congress members surrounded the speaker’s chair and shouted slogans like “Modi teri tanashahi nahi chalegi, nahi chalegi.”
Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said, “We are not against the judiciary. We are protesting against your intent to oppress. This is happening to the entire Opposition. If someone doesn’t agree with you, you are trying to harass them.”
Trinamool Congress leaders, while supporting Congress’ protest against alleged vendetta politics, walked out of the the Lok Sabha.
Minister for Parliamentary Affairs M. Venkaiah Naidu slammed the Congress saying, “Congress has proven to be the fountain head of the mobocracy in the country”.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: “The Congress party is stalling the development of the county. Whistleblowers protection bill and ST/SC (prevention of atrocities) amendment bill are listed in today’s business. After misusing every Constitutional institution and government agency during its 10 year rule, Congress in now politicising a court matter.”
Naqvi argued that the government is ready to discuss any matter on the house floor. “If the Congress feels any kind of discrimination, we are ready to discuss. They are protesting inside and outside parliament and disrupting government’s development agenda,” he said.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “We want discussions against Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh governments.”
As the ruckus continued, Kurien adjourned the house till 12 noon. At 12 noon, similar scenes were witnessed and Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the house till 12.15 p.m and then till 2.00 p.m.
Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were earlier ordered by the court to face allegations that they had illegally acquired property worth Rs 5,000 crore that belonged to the National Herald newspaper by buying its parent organisation AJPL through Young India, a firm in which Sonia and Rahul hold the majority share.
BJP’s Subramaniam Swamy had filed a PIL in this case. The developments have threatened the chances of a working relationship that the BJP was trying to forge with the Congress. It seems to have undermined the odds of successful passage of key reforms like Goods and Service Tax (GST) Bill for which the BJP needs the Congress’ support.