M A I N   N E W S

For the first time since ’89
MP evicted from RS
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 24
Proceedings in the Rajya Sabha, on Thursday, were completely stalled with the Opposition, including the Samajwadi Party, objecting to the removal of AIADMK leader V. Maitreyan from the Rajya Sabha after he sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s response to charges against shipping and transport minister T.R. Baalu for favouring his sons’ firms.

The AIDMK leader had been asked to leave the House in the morning session after Chairman Hamid Ansari invoked a rarely used rule against him for disrupting proceedings over Baalu’s admission in the House yesterday that he hat he had put in a word with the petroleum minister to get natural gas allocation for two companies owned by his sons.

The Maitreyan issue resulted in the Upper House being adjourned for the second time during the day. The House plunged into a pandemonium during the post-lunch session with the BJP and third front members on their feet, protesting the removal of Maitreyan by invoking the rarely used rule against him. Ansari had expelled the AIADMK member under Rule 255 for repeatedly disobeying the Chair. The rule was last used in 1989.

Trouble started as soon as Question Hour began in the Rajya Sabha. Maitreyan was on his feet demanding a response from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was also present in the House, on comments made by the shipping minister yesterday.

Baalu on Wednesday had admitted in the Upper House that he had put in a word with the petroleum minister for allocation of gas to a company, which he had headed in the past. “I put in a word with the petroleum minister. What is wrong in it?” Baalu had retorted after Maitreyan said that the minister had misused his official position to get gas for two companies owned by his sons.

In his defence, Baalu said he was the managing director before he became a minister in the NDA government. The companies had entered into an agreement with Gail for allocation of 10,000 cubic metre gas. However, within days of his resignation from the NDA government in 2003, the gas allocation was cancelled.

Baalu said he put in a word to the petroleum minister in interest of employees and shareholders. “What is wrong in it? BJP has taken revenge from me”. he had said yesterday. On Thursday, as soon as Maitreyan raised the issue, Ansari disallowed his plea Maitreyan, supported by his party colleagues, did not relent and continued to press for clarification from the PM.

Ansari warned him that he was close to invoking Rule 255, saying that nothing would go on record. “This is disorderly behaviour….unbecoming of a parliamentarian. You are violating the rules of the house,” Ansari said, asking the AIADMK members gathered in the aisle to go back to their seats.

The Chairman said House procedures were being deliberately violated and read out Rule 255 under which the Chairman can ask the member to withdraw from the council if he feels that his behaviour was grossly disorderly. “I am invoking this rule against you,” Ansari said, after which Maitreyan walked out of the house.

Other AIADMK members, though not reprimanded, followed. BJP members were not present in the House during the period as they were outside protesting against price rise. As soon as the House re-assembled in the post-lunch session at 2 pm, Opposition BJP and SP members were on their feet demanding that Maitreyan’s eviction be revoked and he be called back in the house. As BJP members shouted slogans, calling for their rights to be protected, senior party leader Sushma Swaraj urged P.J. Kurien, to adjourn the proceedings till the Business Advisory Committee meeting at 4 pm so the matter could be amicably resolved. However, Congress members opposed the proposed adjournment. Left parties, calling Matreyen’s dismissal an unfortunate incident, favoured that business should proceed.

Kurien said he could not adjourn the House on the issue as the eviction order had been given by the Chairman under rules and he was not in a position to overrule his order. The noise and slogan-shouting continued for about one-and-a-half hours after which the House was adjourned. Earlier, the House had been adjourned till 2 pm after members of the BJP-led NDA raised an uproar over the price rise issue.

Decision today

Chairman Hamid Ansari will take a final decision on the issue of removal of AIADMK leader V. Maitreyan from the Rajya Sabha after a meeting with party leaders tomorrow. The decision follows a Business Advisory Committee meeting this evening. Ansari had asked Maitreyan to leave the Rajya Sabha, invoking a rarely used rule against the member. During the post-lunch session, the BJP and the Third Front members had disrupted proceeding of the House on the removal of Maitreyan.

Senior party leader Sushma Swaraj had urged P.J. Kurien, who was in Chair during the afternoon session, to adjourn proceedings of the House till Business Advisory Committee meeting so that the matter could be amicably resolved.

During the BAC meeting the issue of Maitreyan’s removal was raised. The BJP and its allies urged the Chairman to ensure no discrimination against any political party. Senior leaders said the Chairman should ascertain previous conduct of the member and whether he was in the habit of regularly disrupting the House before taking decisions like these.



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