Tension, unruly scenes presage quota bill discussion
Tension and unruly scenes prevailed in the Rajya Sabha Thursday before the house could take up the quota in promotions bill, with angry Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien asking two Samajwadi Party members to withdraw from house following continuous slogan shouting by the party.
The Constitution (One Hundred Seventeenth Amendment) Bill, 2012, could be taken up for consideration only after Samajwadi members "boycotted" the proceedings following three quick adjournments in the post-lunch session.
The bill, a major demand of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), seeks to provide reservation in promotions in jobs to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs).
It was a repeat of earlier occasions when Samajwadi Party (SP) members resorted to slogan shouting to prevent the house from taking up the bill, but Kurien made his intention clear right at the outset of the post-lunch session. He said he will not adjourn the house and not succumb to "blackmail".
Kurien repeatedly urged SP members, who came near the chairman's podium, to resume their seats and warned them of action under the rules.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath also urged the chair to take action against the defiant SP members.
"How many days you have obstructed? I will take action. Please don't test my patience," Kurien said and asked marshals to be ready.
"(I) cannot surrender to this tactic and cannot accept this kind of blackmail," he said and asked Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions V. Narayanasamy to proceed with the bill.
Leaders of political parties in the house had earlier in the day offered their cooperation for its orderly conduct.
"I'm going to name all of you. Please don't let me do that. I will forcefully evict you," Kurien added.
As the members did not yield, Kurien invoked Rule 255 and asked SP member Arvind Kumar Singh to withdraw from the house.
With Samajwadi members not paying any heed, Kurien adjourned the house for 10 minutes.
He stopped live telecast of the proceedings as the SP continued slogan shouting when the house met after the adjournment.
Kurien told Arvind Kumar Singh he would be forced to call the marshals. "He must withdraw, otherwise I will have to call marshals," Kurien said.
With SP members refusing to go away from the podium near the chair, Kurien adjourned the house again for 10 minutes.
When the house met, SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav told the chair that the party members were willing to go if there was a sense of house resolution.
He told colleague Arvind Kumar Singh to withdraw.
With stalemate over resolution, Kurien adjourned the house again for 15 minutes.
When it reassembled, Kurien named another Samajwadi member Chaudhary Munabbar Saleem.
Opposition members urged Kurien not to use marshals to evict any member.
Yadav then led a "boycott" by SP members. He said the bill was being brought against the wishes of people and would undo a Supreme Court judgment.
He also took strong exception to Kamal Nath's remarks that all SP members should be named individually.
Members were seen engrossed in hectic consultations during the adjournments.
Mayawati and her colleague Satish Mishra walked up to BJP leader Arun Jaitley. Kamal Nath and his deputy Rajeev Shukla tried to talk to SP members.
P. Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh were also part of the informal consultations.
Narayanasamy moved the bill for consideration of the house once order was restored in the house.
He said the bill sought to provide impediment-free reservation in promotion to the SCs and the STs.
BJP leader Arun Jaitley urged the government to reconsider some provisions of the bill, saying otherwise it would help people with doubtful integrity.
But BSP chief Mayawati said the bill would help the SCs and the STs achieve proper status in society. D. Raja of the Communist Party of India also supported the bill.
However, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury said the party would suggest amendments to the bill to create a supernumerary post.