Congress members trooped into the well of the House raising anti-government slogans and charging the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with “stealing" MLAs to help its candidates win the Rajya Sabha polls, forcing brief adjournments one after the other.
Deputy chairman P. J. Kurien first adjourned the proceedings for 10 minutes soon after the House assembled as Congress leaders, including leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, raised the issue and party members stormed the well raising slogans.
Similar scenes were witnessed when the House met again, forcing Kurien to adjourn the proceedings till 1200 hours. A repeat of the protests saw chairman Hamid Ansari to adjourn the House again after it reassembled at noon. As there was no let-up in the opposition protests, the House was again adjourned till 1430 hours.
Azad said he was not raising the issue of three Congress MLAs who had resigned from the party and one of them being immediately named as the BJP candidate for the Rajya Sabha polls. He said Punabhai Gamit, MLA from reserved constituency of Vyara, after attending district Congress executive committee, had gone for a tea to another MLA’s house when district superintendent of police “abducted" him.
The police officer, he alleged, told the MLA that Congress has decided not to give him a ticket for the upcoming assembly elections and he should leave the party and join BJP and he would arrange his meeting with the BJP president and get him the ticket.
Azad alleged that the police officer who picked the Congress MLA up was the one who was arrested in a fake encounter case. The MLA managed to flee when he asked the police officer to allow him to get a changeover of clothes, he claimed.
“You are stealing MLAs by using the police (to garner votes)," Azad said, adding “You should be ashamed." Earlier, Sharma had raised the issue through a point of order saying the Constitution was being violated by the ruling BJP which was using the police to “abduct" MLAs.
“They are stealing MLAs," he said, adding that it must be guaranteed that the biennial elections to Rajya Sabha are free and fair and MLAs are released. Union minister Parshottam Rupala sought to counter the charge saying it was an internal matter of the Congress whose MLAs, including the leader of the party in the state assembly, were deserting it.
“Why are you complaining here," he said. Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said it is the Election Commission’s responsibility to hold free and fair elections. “If they have a complaint, they should go to Election Commission. Rajya Sabha is not the place to protest."
Congress is not able “to keep its house in order", Naqvi said, prompting the opposition party MPs to troop into the Well shouting slogans. “You have to protect the Constitution ... Voters are being kidnapped where do we go," Azad said.
Kurien said the Chair has nothing to do with elections. “If what has been narrated has happened, solution lies elsewhere. You can approach police, you can approach election commission and seek remedy. I have no remedy for this," he said.
He asked protesting members to return to their seats but his pleas went unheeded. “What is the use of obstructing," he asked before adjourning the proceedings for 10 minutes. When the House reassembled, Anand Sharma (Congress) again raised the issue of abduction.
To this, Kurein asked what he could do. Azad suggested that the chair can give a direction to the election commission to ensure fair election. He said the officer involved in the incident should be removed. Kurien, however, said the election commission “does not require a direction from the chair" to conduct free and fair election, as it is bound to do so and “they are doing it".
“If you have a complaint, approach election commission," he said. As Congress members trooped into the well and started slogan-shouting, Naqvi took pot-shots at the main opposition party saying they would also demand a direction to the Supreme Court as several of their members are involved in “corruption" cases.
Congress would also seek direction to election commission as they are losing the elections, the minister added. Kurien asked agitated Congress members to return to their seats so that Zero Hour business could be taken. However, Congress members kept shouting slogans from the well. Kurien adjourned the House till noon. When the House met at noon, chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the proceedings, first briefly for 15 minutes and then till 1430 hours.