Quota leaves Parliament in turmoil

Womens Bill: Members throw pen stand at Ansari and jump on tables

Quota leaves Parliament in turmoil

A TV grab shows SP and RJD MPs trying to snatch copies of the Women’s Reservation Bill from Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari to prevent its tabling in the House in New Delhi on Monday. PTI/Courtesy Lok Sabha TV

Tearing copies of bills and Constitutional documents and slogan shouting are  common inside the House, but what seems to be the new drama was members jumping on the table around which the secretary-general and Parliamentary reporters sit right in the well of House.

And precisely this happened in the Rajya Sabha on Monday when the House met and Law Minister Veerappa Moily was called to table the Women’s Reservation Bill.
Members from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Samajwadi Party (SP) and a suspended MP of the Janata Dal-United rushed to the well and snatched the papers from the table of Chairman Hamid Ansari.

Rajniti Prasad from the RJD and Nandkishore Yadav and Kamal Akhtar, both from the SP, were seen tearing copies of the Bill and throwing papers at him. Some of the members even tried to climb on to the podium, threw the pen stands towards Ansari’s table and damaged the public address system.

A Samajwadi Party member climbed up on the table of the secretary-general and the Parliamentary reporters and jumped from there into the well of the House. An embarrassed and shaken chairman then adjourned the House.

Technicians were called in to put in place a proper public address system. The marshals were brought in and were briefed by their seniors to take their positions around the chairman’s podium.

In the meantime, the messengers were seen quickly removing the pen stands, paper weights, books on the Indian Constitution and the much-used Rule Books from the secretary-general’s table and putting them under it.

After five adjournments, the House was adjourned for the day at 6 pm without the Bill being taken up for voting despite the government having the numbers to carry the legislation through.

Similar scenes in LS
The Lok Sabha was no exception to the pandemonium. With the Yadav triumvirate —Lalu Prasad of the RJD, Mulayam Singh Yadav of the SP and Sharad Yadav of the JD(U) — leading the brigade opposed to the Bill, the Lok Sabha, too, saw much action.

As the MPs opposing the Bill marched to the well of the House, an SP MP tried to climb on the Speaker’s podium, although he was restrained by Mulayam. Speaker Meira Kumar had to adjourn the House five times, finally for the day.

As the House assembled at 11:00 am on Monday, the Speaker made a short reference to the International Women’s Day and started the proceedings of the Question Hour.

But Lalu and Mulayam led the MPs of their parties to the well of the House and disrupted the proceedings, criticising the Congress-led UPA government for trying to push forward the Bill without trying to evolve consensus over it. The BSP MPs also joined them.

Finance Minister and Leader of the House, Pranab Mukherjee, was seen urging the agitating MPs to calm down with folded hands. But as the uproar continued, the Speaker adjourned the House till 12 noon.

When the House reassembled, the SP, BSP and RJD members  allowed the papers to be laid, but resumed shouting slogans against the Women’s Reservation Bill, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House again till 2 pm.

Sharad Yadav and some of his party MPs joined the agitators after the House reassembled. Sharad — along with Mulayam and Lalu — also came to the well of the House and disrupted the proceedings, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House again — this time for the day.

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