Venkaiah Naidu writes letter to Rajya Sabha members after Opposition boycotts proceedings

The Opposition on Tuesday accused the Rajya Sabha Chair of ignoring the "rules, regulations, procedures and traditions" by not allowing its members to raise some crucial issues.

Venkaiah Naidu writes letter to Rajya Sabha members after Opposition boycotts proceedings
File photo

New Delhi: After the Opposition parties boycotted the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, its chairman M Venkaiah Naidu issued a letter to the members of the House.

Naidu, in his letter, said it would be his commitment to allow any issue to be raised by anybody as per rules and procedures and nobody should have any misgivings about that.

The letter also clarifies his decision to adjourn the House for a longer period instead of frequent adjournments. The Vice President also hinted at some sections of the House who are bent on not allowing smooth conduct of the House.

The Opposition on Tuesday accused the Rajya Sabha Chair of ignoring the "rules, regulations, procedures and traditions" by not allowing its members to raise some crucial issues and by giving long adjournments.

A combined Opposition on Tuesday boycotted the Rajya Sabha in the post-lunch sitting, complaining that their voice was being muzzled outside as well as inside Parliament.

In the morning, Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien had given a notice under Rule 267 to discuss the alleged overreach of West Bengal Governor KN Tripathi who was trying to bypass the state government in administrative matters.

Naidu rejected the notice and when O'Brien persisted with the matter during the Zero Hour, adjourned the House till 2 pm, skipping even the Question Hour held from 12 noon to 1 pm on Tuesday, IANS reported.

When the House met again at 2 pm, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad raised the issue of the House being adjourned without conducting the Zero Hour and the Question Hour for the past few days, saying Parliament works according to "rules, regulations, procedures and conventions" and not "according to one's whims".

Azad was joined by other Opposition leaders including Samajwadi Party's Naresh Agarwal, O'Brien and Communist Party of India-Marxist's Tapan Sen in the protest.

As Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien said that Chairman's decisions could not be questioned in the House and the aggrieved members may meet him in his chamber, Azad announced that the Opposition is boycotting the House for the day and the entire Opposition then walked out. Kurien then adjourned the House till 3 pm on Tuesday.

Outside the House, Congress, Samajwadi Party, Trinamool, DMK, CPI-M, CPI and AAP leaders told the media that an attempt was being made to stifle the Opposition's voice for "last one week or so".

Following is the full text of Naidu's letter, as per ANI:

From the day I have assumed the office of Chairman of this august House, I have made it clear that any issue sought to be raised by any member of the House, will be allowed to be raised. I have reasons to believe that no hon'ble member would have any grouse in this regard.

I am deeply concerned with the negative public perception of this august House on account of forced adjournments and that too quite frequently over the years, which frequently follows a pattern. A pattern aimed at not allowing the House to function smoothly, come what may.

Ever since I started chairing the proceedings of this House, leaders of several parties have conveyed their anguish to me over how they are being deprived of their right to raise issue of concern to them as some parties strategise for disruptions leading to forced adjournments. I have shared this with floor leaders on more than one occasion.

Coming to the pattern of disruptions, I would like to share with honourable members that I have admitted a total of 42 zero hour admissions during the last three working days i.e, 2nd, 5th and 6th of this month. Only one could make the submission. Who is to be held responsible for denying 41 members of their right to bring their concerns to the notice of this august House and to the government.

Another aspect of this pattern is that first Zero Hour is disrupted and then even question hour when the members get an opportunity to question the government is also disrupted. On many occasions over the years, house gets adjourned several times between 11 am and 1.00 pm. In this era of TV explosion, such frequent adjournments are adversely impacting the image and credibility of this House.

In this backdrop, I thought that it would be better to adjourn the House for a longer period instead of resorting to frequent adjournments. That too when it becomes evident that some sections of the house were bent on not allowing smooth conduct of the House.

I have discussed this concern of mine with Deputy Chairman first this morning and later with floor leaders. I have urged the leaders to ensure smooth conduct of proceedings. I also told leaders that if house proceedings were disrupted at the start, I would be left with no option but to adjourn the house till lunch.

My intention in doing so is to promote a sense of collective responsibility in minimising or doing away with such forced frequent disruptions. When members and parties realise that they would ultimately be the losers of such disruptions and adjournments, they would talk to each other and enable better functioning of the house.

I realise some honourable members have perhaps not properly understood my concern and anguish over the functioning of the house. I would like to reiterate again that it would be my commitment to allow any issue to be raised by anybody as per rules and procedures and nobody should have any misgivings about that. 

(With Agency inputs)