New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha was Thursday stalled for the fourth consecutive day over the conversion row as the opposition insisted Prime Minister Narendra Modi should reply to a debate on attack on the country’s secular fabric and the government blamed them for shying from the discussion.
The first adjournment came during zero hour, and then question hour saw a 15 minute adjournment even as the prime minister was present. At 1 p.m., still unable to take up the debate, the house was adjourned for lunch.
The post-lunch session saw a 15 minute break again before it was adjourned for the day.
Modi was present in the house during question hour, and despite Chairman M. Hamid Ansari allowing the debate, it could not be taken up as the opposition insisted on an assurance first that the prime minister would reply to the debate.
Later, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the prime minister could have intervened in the debate if it had been taken up while he was there in the house.
“In the pre-lunch session, there was a general consensus that a discussion should take place. PM was here. I would have replied, and wherever needed, if the members were not satisfied, PM could have intervened,” said Rajnath Singh.
“I am sorry that the PM was present but opposition did not allow the debate. There is some prestige of the prime minister’s post,” he said.
The house witnessed repeated disruptions, adjournments and angry exchanges between ruling and opposition sides.
Members from both the opposition and treasury benches created a din and the debate could not be taken up despite the chair repeatedly asking the members to start the discussion.
Congress leader Anand Sharma accused the government of heckling the opposition.
“Treasury benches are not allowing our members to speak. They are heckling us,” he said.
An angry Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi accused opposition benches of running away from the debate.
“Look at your members. You come out with a new condition every time. You are running away from a debate,” he said.
Earlier, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley slammed the opposition, saying it appeared to be only interested in creating roadblocks in the functioning of the house.
“The notice for this discussion under Rule 267 (adjournment of question hour) came Monday. We agreed for a debate,” he said.
“But the opposition wants to decide how the debate will happen, who will respond,” he said.
He said even after the last statement by the prime minister, the house was not allowed to function.
“The (prime minister’s) response was conciliatory. It indicated the house should go on. But someone said this is not acceptable, and that is where competitive politics of disruption started,” said Jaitley.