Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding his umbrella addresses the media on the first day of the Monsoon Session of Parliament on Monday. Union Ministers Pralhad Joshi, Arjun Ram Meghwal and
V Muraleedharan are also seen. (PTI)
NEW DELHI :
PARLIAMENT’S Monsoon Session began on a stormy note on Monday as the Opposition, protesting over a host of issues including farm laws and fuel price hike, prevented Prime Minister Narendra Modi from introducing newly-inducted Union Ministers, a customary practice. The disruption by Opposition members drew sharp criticism from Prime Minister Modi who accused them of being unable to digest the fact that a large number of new Ministers are women, Dalits, tribals and those from other backward classes. The Prime Minister lashed out at the Opposition for creating a ruckus, saying such a ‘negative mindset’ has never been seen in Parliament. The Prime Minister said he expected members of the House to show enthusiasm by thumping their desks to welcome the Ministers, most of whom have come from backward and rural backgrounds with many being children of farmers.
“However, probably, some people did not like that people of such background have become Ministers and that is why they are now conducting themselves in such a manner,” the Prime Minister said in Lok Sabha. In Rajya Sabha too, Opposition members, some of them in the Well, raised slogans forcing repeated adjournments. Expressing anguish over the conduct of the protesting Opposition members, Modi questioned their mentality behind their behaviour of not allowing him to introduce women, Dalit and scheduled tribe MPs who have been made Ministers. He said a number of women, Dalit and those belonging to scheduled tribes have been made Union Ministers, but some Opposition members do not want to hear their names and give them the due honour. “What is this mentality?,” he wondered and said it was for the first time he has seen this in the House.
As the Opposition members continued their uproar, Modi laid the list of newly-inducted Ministers on the table of the House. The new Leader of the House and Union Minister Piyush Goyal said it was a tradition since the times of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that new Ministers are introduced to the House. Goyal condemned the behaviour” of the Opposition members and said such conduct would be harmful to the democratic traditions of the country. Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha both were adjourned without transacting much business on first day of Monsoon Session as the Opposition, protesting over a host of issues, disrupted proceedings through the day. In Lok Sabha, when Speaker Om Birla asked PM Modi to introduce the new Ministers, Leader of Congress Party in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said his party has given notices to discuss issues including economy and (rising) prices. Members from Congress and Trinamool Congress raised placards demanding the withdrawal of “black laws” on agriculture. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Patel said the Prime Minister should be allowed to introduce the Ministers as per convention and the issues can be raised later.
The Speaker appealed to the Opposition members to not disrupt the proceedings as it is the tradition for the Prime Minister to introduce new Ministers to the House. “You have been in power too. You should not lower the dignity of the House. You are breaking a good tradition. This is the largest democracy and you are setting a bad precedent. I appeal you to maintain the dignity of the House,” Birla told the Opposition members. However, they did not relent. Modi requested the Speaker to consider the Ministers introduced and he would lay a copy of the names on the table. Criticising the Opposition for not allowing the Prime Minister to introduce the new Ministers, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said it was happening for the first time in his 24 years of parliamentary career. “The strength of Parliament is in maintaining healthy traditions. Both Opposition and Treasury should maintain healthy traditions. Even if one or 50 new Ministers are inducted, the whole House listens to their introduction by the Prime Minister with decorum... This is sad, unfortunate and an unhealthy approach,” Singh, who is also the Deputy Leader of Lok Sabha, said. Naming the Congress, Singh said what the Opposition party did was “unhealthy”.
The House also paid tributes to 40 former members who passed away in recent months. As Speaker Birla started making obituary references, he asked Opposition members to leave the Well and return to their seats at least during obituaries. The members then returned to their seats. After the House stood in silence for the departed former colleagues, Harsimrat Kaur Badal (SAD) and some Congress members said obituaries should also be paid to those agitating farmers who have died in the recent past. As the disruptions continued despite Speaker Om Birla’s repeated pleas to maintain decorum, the House was adjourned after nearly 40 minutes till 2 PM. Later, the proceedings of Lok Sabha were adjourned for the second time amid sloganeering by Opposition members over various issues, including those related to rising prices and the new farm laws. Rajendra Agrawal, who was in the Chair, adjourned the House till 3:30 PM barely 10 minutes after proceedings began at 2 PM.
Agrawal urged members to go back to their seats and allow the House to function normally, but as protests continued, he adjourned the proceedings. Earlier, four newly-elected members --- Maddila Gurumoorthy (YSR Congress), Mangal Suresh Angadi (BJP), M P Abdussamad Samadani (IUML), Vijayakumar (Congress) --- took oath as the House convened after a gap of nearly four months. Meanwhile, in Rajya Sabha, Chairman Venkaiah Naidu did not allow the 17 notices by different Opposition parties to suspend the scheduled business of the House and take up the matters raised by them. He said it was not feasible to take 17 issues in one go, and assured the members that all the important matters would be taken up in due course of time. But the assurance did not pacify the Opposition members who continued to protest, forcing Naidu to adjourn the House first till 2 PM and then till 3 PM. The House was later adjourned for the day amid continued sloganeering by the Opposition.