M A I N   N E W S

House shame on Women’s Day
Chaos breaks loose in Rajya Sabha as SP, RJD virtually kill quota Bill
Vibha Sharma and Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

A TV grab shows MPs trying to snatch copies of the Bill from RS chairman Hamid Ansari
A TV grab shows MPs trying to snatch copies of the Bill from RS chairman Hamid Ansari. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

New Delhi, March 8
It certainly was a historic day but for all the wrong reasons. Instead of debating and voting on the much-delayed Women’s Reservation Bill, the Upper House witnessed unprecedented scenes with SP and RJD members, most vocal opponents of the controversial legislation, tearing its copies, uprooting the mike of the Chairman and climbing the table of proceeding reporters in the Well of the House.

Even though the government had indicated its determination to push the Bill to coincide with the centenary of the International Women’s Day, in an anti-climax of sorts, voting on the landmark legislation in Rajya Sabha was deferred after five adjournments in a day. The Lower House was also adjourned four times as members from the RJD and the SP demanded withdrawal of the Bill and sought implementation of the Ranganath Mishra Commission report.

But the Upper House saw dramatic developments reminiscent of scenes hitherto witnessed only in state Assemblies. As expected, SP, LJP and RJD members did not allow the House to function from the word go. However, they not just created unruly scenes to stall the Bill, forcing repeated adjournments, but sought to grab Chairman Hamid Ansari’s mike in a bid to prevent him from conducting proceedings of the House.

Expelled JD(U) member Ejaz Ali, Subhash Yadav of the RJD, Sabbir Ali of the LJP, Nand Kishore Yadav and Kamal Akhtar of the SP led the combined offensive against the Bill. Despite whips issued by the three major formations --- the Congress and its allies, the BJP and its allies and the Left --- a handful of opponents of the Bill not only managed to effectively stall it for the day but also forced the government to consider convening an all-party meeting to discuss the issue.

At 1400 hrs, after two adjournments, the Bill reserving one-third of seats in Lok Sabha and state Assemblies was moved for consideration of the House by Law Minister M Veerappa Moily, amid pandemonium. However, soon after Moily moved the Bill for consideration, the Chairman was forced to adjourn it in view of the ruckus created by those opposing the legislation.

Yadav and Akhtar almost tried to get physical with the Chairman. Amid the chaos, the Chairman’s mike was uprooted and stationery placed on Ansari’s table thrown around. Some members were seen threatening to reach the Chairman’s podium.

Parliament security personnel immediately swung into action and shielded the Chairman to prevent these members from climbing on his table. Akhtar climbed the table of Rajya Sabha reporters in front of the Chairman, chanting slogans against the Bill, while his protesting colleagues, including RJD’s Rajniti Prasad, tore the copies of the Bill and threw pieces towards the chair.

Within minutes, a visibly upset Ansari adjourned the House till 1500 hrs. After the House was adjourned, engineers immediately fixed the mike. Fearing repeat of such scenes, Rajya Sabha staff cleared tables of the Secretary General as also House Reporters of items like pen sets and paper weights.

When the House resumed its sitting at 1500 hrs, Vice-Chairman P J Kurien adjourned it for another one hour. The House was ultimately adjourned for the day at 1800 hrs.

For the Congress-led UPA, the day ended in a double whammy, the loss of face with the BJP and the Left, considering the fact that the two opposition parties were supporting the government completely on the Bill. It was also a major embarrassment for the government, especially after lofty announcements to create history of sorts on the Women’s Day.

Short of a blaming the Congress, the BJP and the Left parties said the government should have had a proper strategy to ensure passage of the Bill. Meanwhile, opponents and supporters of the Bill have asserted that the measure should be discussed and voted and cannot be hustled through in uproar.

Meanwhile, the Congress core group met this evening against the backdrop of deadlock over the Bill. The party lambasted the SP and the RJD for stalling the House and creating unruly scenes. Party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi attacked opponents of the Bill for resorting to disruptive methods while terming the events of the day as “shame” in a democracy. “A small group indulged in shameful acts on a day which could have been a day of pride,” he added.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |