New Delhi: Deadlock in Rajya Sabha continued for the fourth day on Thursday as opposition kept demanding for a reply by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a debate on religious conversions which the government steadfastly rejected.
Though the Prime Minister was present in the House during the Question Hour, the proceedings were consumed by arguments between the opposition and treasury benches over procedures of a debate on the communal incidents in the country.
Thursday is a day when questions related to the portfolios held by the Prime Minister are listed for reply.
As the Opposition continued to press its demand leading to repeated adjournments, Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government was ready to debate the issue immediately but asserted that Opposition cannot dictate who will reply from the government side and what will be the terms and conditions.
“In this very House the Prime Minister made a statement on request of opposition… Three days after the Prime Minister’s statement, the House was not allowed to function…I repeat government’s (offer). If they want (discussion), let it start just now,” Jaitley said.
Ruling out a reply by the Prime Minister, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkiah Naidu said as per the rules the Home Minister will reply after the debate as the issue relates to his ministry.
But almost the entire Opposition insisted on reply by the Prime Minister only.
“The Prime Minister should reply,” Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said, and got support from Congress members.
Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said since the Prime Minister is present, he should listen to views of members and then reply as there is “unease” outside as well as inside the House.
Deputy Leader of Congress Anand Sharma said, “Opposition is serious to end the deadlock…the Prime Minister is a good speaker…he should reply.”
As opposition members kept saying that serious problems have arisen in the country following forced conversions, Naidu said “country is quite and calm”, but some people are trying to create commotion by raising this issue.
BSP leader Mayawati said the Prime Minister should reply as demanded by the opposition and government should not make it a “prestige issue”.
On the conversion issue, Naidu said law and order was state government subject and they should take action against those who violate law.
As the opposition and treasury benches kept arguing with each other on the process of debate, Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the House for lunch, observing that there was no consensus on starting the debate.
Opposition members earlier wanted suspension of business to start debate but Ansari rejected it, saying proper notice should be given.
When the House met for the day, Congress and other opposition parties demanded presence of the Prime Minister in the House and his reply to the debate on the issue.
As proceedings continued to be stalled, government attacked opposition, saying it shows “arrogance of numbers.” In the Rajya Sabha, ruling NDA is in minority.
Opposition members, however, persisted with their demand that proceedings be suspended and taking up the debate. The treasury benches, however, opposed this. With the stalemate continuing, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien adjourned the House till noon.
Anand Sharma (Cong) said by rejecting the Opposition demand, “the Government is being arrogant.”
He said Opposition parties want the House to run but for that Prime Minister should come and reply to the debate.
Jaitley said Prime Minister coming to the House earlier and making a statement disapproving of a comment by a Union minister should have had a sobering effect.
He said the Lok Sabha was functioning normally and it was only Rajya Sabha which was being disrupted.
This, he said, reflected that “it is arrogance of numbers and not the arrogance of the government.”
Yechury said Lok Sabha was functioning because of “tyranny of majority”.