Quota politics: Chaos in parliament
After four days of continuous disruption and unruly scenes in parliament, the UPA government finally took up the controversial promotion quota bill in the upper house that saw two regional political parties, Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), battle it out on centre stage.
But before the Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill, 2012 that provides for a quota for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in government job promotions could be taken up for consideration in the Rajya Sabha, the SP members "boycotted" the proceedings after three adjournments in the post-lunch session.
The high drama began soon after lunch when the SP leaders created a ruckus and started shouting slogans to prevent the house from taking up the bill and advanced to the chairman's podium. The SP has termed the bill "unconstitutional" and is protesting the bill.
But an angry Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien made it clear from the outset that he will not adjourn the house and not succumb to "blackmail".
"How many days you have obstructed…I will take action, please don't test my patience," Kurien said and asked marshals to be ready.
" (I) cannot surrender to this tactic and cannot accept this kind of blackmail," he said and asked Minister of State for Personnel V. Narayansamy to proceed with the bill.
But the unruly scenes continued. Kurien then told SP leaders Ram Gopal Yadav and Naresh Agrawal to evict Arvind Kumar Singh from the house. "Please withdraw him," Kurien said.
Kurien also threatened to apply Rule 255, under which marshals would be called if the member did not leave the house.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath also suggested that the chair should name one by one the SP leaders to be evicted from the house.
But after three adjournments the drama showed no signs of ending. Kurien then started naming the SP leaders one by one. This led the SP leaders to walk out of the house.
Talking to reporters outside the parliament, Ram Gopal Yadav compared the incident to a scene in the "Mahabharata" where Draupadi was disrobed in a royal court.
"Just like a scene in the 'Mahabharata', all members were quietly witnessing injustice. The government evicted our members under rules in which they could have called marshals," he said.
The drama by the SP came on a day the Supreme Court declined to recall its order of a CBI probe into allegations of disproportionate assets against SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
The unruly scenes were ironically preceded by the house coming together to express faith in the chair.
This was necessitated after an impatient BSP chief Mayawati on Tuesday attacked Rajya Sabha Chairperson Hamid Ansari. Certain comments of hers were later expunged, but not before Ansari expressed that he was "upset" by the comments.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also called up Ansari to express his displeasure over Mayawati's comments.
"I would like to convey that our government has full faith and highest regard for you. Respect of the chair is maintaining the dignity of the house," the prime minister said.
On Thursday morning, Mayawati was the first speaker to say that she has faith in the chair, but didn't apologise for her behaviour.
The bill got support from all parties, except the SP.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley urged the government to reconsider some provisions of the bill, saying it would help people with doubtful integrity to get the benefit of promotions.
Mayawati, who has been pressing for the bill, said it will help scheduled castes and scheduled tribes achieve a proper status in society.
D. Raja of the Communist Party of India also supported the bill. - IANS