Washout clouds over Monsoon Session


The charged-up atmosphere in the Lower House on Friday and the escalated pressure from both the sides indicated that the disruptions and the abrupt adjournments are likely to continue next week also.

The Lok Sabha functioned barely for a few minutes on Friday before it was adjourned for Monday as MPs from both the sides were on their feet shouting slogans against each other. The Upper House, too, failed to transact any significant business on Friday due to disruptions caused by the opposition members.

The Congress demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should apologise for the “behaviour of ruling party MPs” to party president Sonia Gandhi. “We want the Prime Minister’s apology and the MPs and the Union Ministers who behaved in a hostile manner with Sonia Gandhi in the Lok Sabha should meet her and apologise,” deputy leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi told The Indian Express.

The remark by Chowdhury referring to the President Murmu as “Rashtrapatni” had triggered a furore on Thursday. The Congress leaders on Friday said Chowdhury has already apologised repeatedly and has also sought an appointment with President Murmu. But the treasury benches demanded Sonia should apologise for the remarks made by her party leader (Chowdhury).

After a morning meeting to decide the strategy on Friday, Congress MPs gave a signed letter to the Speaker and demanded that the matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges for action against Irani. The Congress has alleged that Sonia was “subjected” to “outrageous misdemeanour” by the ruling party MPs.

“After the House was adjourned at 12pm today [Thursday], a large group of BJP MPs raised slogans against Sonia Gandhi…who herself walked over to the big group of MPs to enquire about the nature of their protest. While she and MP Rama Devi engaged in a civil dialogue, a big group of MPs (both male and female including cabinet ministers) surrounded Sonia Gandhi and subjected her to verbal assault and physical intimidation. The situation had come to such a pass that Sonia Gandhi could have been injured seriously. Finally, female MPs of the Congress and other Opposition parties escorted her to safety,” the letter said.

“Now, we seek your intervention in sending the matter to the privilege committee as the unruly behaviour of those alleged members may warrant the suspension from the House,” the notice signed by party MPs said.

The Opposition has been seeking a debate on the price rise and the new GST rates on the packaged food items since the day session started. It is also seeking withdrawal of the suspension of four MPs before going ahead with the business. Four Congress MPs – Manickam Tagore, S Jothimani, Ramya Haridas and T N Prathapan – were suspended on Monday for the remaining session that ends on August 12 for their “misconduct”.

The suspension of 23 Rajya Sabha MPs ended on Friday and they can resume attending the Upper House from Monday. The government on Friday reiterated that it is ready to take up a discussion on the GST next week in both the Houses.

Amidst the row, some Union Ministers called on President Murmu at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. “Called on Adarneeya Rashtrapati, Smt Droupadi Murmu Ji. @rashtrapatibhvn,” Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted.

While Shah was pictured meeting the President alone, Smriti Irani along with Ministers of State from two of the departments that she leads — Mahendra Munjpara from Women and Child Development, and John Barla from Minority Affairs — also met the President.





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