High drama in Rajya Sabha: War of words between Dhankhar & Kharge as Congress MP faints while protesting

The changing political dynamics was also evident in Rajya Sabha with BJD joining the Opposition in the protest demanding discussion on NEET and walking out with them.
Last Updated : 28 June 2024, 12:22 IST

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New Delhi: High drama and unprecedented scenes were witnessed in Rajya Sabha on Friday over Opposition demand for an immediate discussion on NEET fiasco with the Leader of Opposition entering the Well of the House, a former Prime Minister arguing for government and an MP fainting in the midst of the protest.

Congress MPs Mallikarjun Kharge when the Chairman refused to adjourn the House for the day over Congress MP Phulo Netam Devi fainted.

Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge and other Opposition floor leaders entered the Well of the House protesting against Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar not allowing the former to raise the NEET issue even as the latter later described it as “ignoble and unruly conduct” leaving the day as “tainted” in the history of Indian Parliament. 

Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, the head of ruling BJP’s ally JD(S),  intervened during the debate on Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address to target the Opposition, asking how can the government fix responsibility when the investigations are on.

As soon as the Chairman refused to entertain 22 notices, including 11 submitted by Trinamool Congress, seeking suspension of business to discuss NEET, the Opposition MPs were on their feet shouting slogans. Soon, they entered the Well of the House even as Dhankhar adjourned the House till 12 noon saying they could speak about it during the debate.

When the House re-assembled, Deputy Chairman Harivansh called BJP MP Sudhanshu Trivedi to move the Motion of Thanks while the Opposition continued to protest. In the midst of Trivedi’s speech, Gowda conveyed to the Chair that he would like to talk.

Emphasising that he did not want to take sides, he said he did not understand how senior Opposition leaders go on attacking the government when only a probe can fix responsibility and only then they can debate. He appealed to the Opposition to allow debate and said, “the Education Minister cannot fix responsibility now” but the protesters did not relent.

As the protest continued, Dhankhar returned to chair the proceedings and Kharge wanted to speak. When he was not called, Kharge entered the Well and was followed by other leaders and MPs. Earlier in August 2019, then Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad had sat in the Well with other Opposition MPs in protest against abrogation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir.

Kharge later told reporters that the Chairman deliberately ignored his request to speak and he had to enter the Well to attract his attention.  He said there has been the NEET exam paper leak and lakhs of children were worried. 

“So to draw attention to the problem of people, we asked for a specific discussion. We did not want to disturb anyone, we only wanted to raise the issues of the students. But he did not give us a chance,” he said.

“What I have seen, that this institution was tarnished, tainted and demeaned. It was the worst sacrilege that could be committed for this temple of democracy. And if this happens from those who have to be led as custodians to preserve the order, nothing can be more unfortunate,” Dhankhar added. 

Published 28 June 2024, 12:22 IST

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