Turmoil in RS as BJP, Cong clash

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha was thrown into turmoil on Tuesday as BJP and Congress members clashed over alleged irregularities in the telecom sector and WikiLeaks expose, derailing an important calling attention on nuclear safety in the country in the backdrop of Japan quake.

The confrontation between the two sides was visible as soon as the House met and repeated clashes forced the Chair to adjourn the House till tomorrow.

In the din, an important bill concerning prevention of sealing of unauthorised commercial constructions in the national capital was passed without discussion.

Even in the Lok Sabha, no discussion could take place on the Bill, which seeks to give relief to the owners of the properties till end of this calendar year, against the court ordered sealing and demolition.

Soon after the House met for the day, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley rose to say that he had given two notices – one on privilege motion against the Prime Minister and the other seeking a discussion under Rule 176, which does not entail voting. However, this was stoutly opposed by Congress members.

Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan said Chairman was seized of the matter and a decision was yet to be taken on the two notices. BJP members persisted that Jaitley should be allowed to speak, but the demand was protested by the treasury benches.

Congress members also waved copies of the weekly news magazine, which carried reports on alleged telecom irregularities during the NDA regime when senior BJP leader Arun Shourie held the portfolio of Disinvestment and the then government disinvested 25 per cent equity in VSNL to Tata group.

Khan had a tough time in persuading Congress members to allow the LoP to speak. Though he repeatedly said the LoP should be allowed to speak as it is his privilege, the ruling side members were unrelenting and shouted "no, no".

Jaitley said the government should agree for an immediate discussion under Rule 176 and the Opposition also wanted the House to run.

Minister of State of Parliamentary Affairs Ashwani Kumar took strong objection to BJP members trooping into the well, saying though the government always favoured a discussion on all issues, an atmosphere has to be created for it.

As the din continued, the Chair was forced adjourn the House repeatedly in the pre-lunch session.

When the House reassembled at 2 pm, Khan called for laying of papers. However, the BJP members trooped into the well again and started shouting slogans demanding discussion on corruption charges against the UPA government.

"Begin discussion on corruption against Congress, against government, against UPA," the BJP members started shouting.

They were countered by Congress members, who were on their feet.

In the din, Khan called for D Raja (CPI) to start his calling attention on nuclear safety in India in the wake of the recent disaster in Japan.

Minister of State in the PMO, V Narayanasamy said the government was ready with the calling attention statement. But the BJP went on shouting slogans in the well and the Congress members kept countering them.

In the melee, Khan adjourned the House till tomorrow after Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh tabled his suo motu statement on Cancun agreements on environment.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as also Jaitley were present.

Later talking to reporters, Raja said, "it was very unfortunate" that Parliament should be disturbed like this by both Congress and BJP members.

Lok Sabha which also witnessed acrimonious scenes and adjournments in the pre-lunch session, took up discussion on the Finance Bill after BJP staged a walkout.