Uncertainty action against MPs on Rajya Sabha ruckus?

New Delhi: More than two months after eight Ministers, at a joint press conference, accused the Opposition of assaulting security officials on the last day of the monsoon session of Parliament, there has been no disciplinary action against anyone. The Rajya Sabha secretariat reached a stalemate after the Congress and few other parties refused to be a part of a probe committee.

Sources indicated that there was unlikely to be any action against the “errant” MPs ahead of the winter session that is scheduled to begin on November 29. The issue will be taken up during the customary all-party meeting ahead of the session.

On August 11, during the passage of the contentious Insurance Bill, which 22 Opposition parties had demanded be sent to a select committee for further scrutiny, there was a physical tussle between the Opposition members and the security staff. The very next day, the eight Ministers accused the Opposition of “bringing anarchy from the streets to Parliament”. Cabinet Ministers Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, Pralhad Joshi, Bhupendra Yadav, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Anurag Thakur, as well as Ministers of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal and V Muraleedharan, sought the “strongest possible action against those who broke the rules”. The charge sheet against the Opposition members and even the CCTV footage of the ruckus were leaked out.

The Rajya Sabha secretariat has already completed its internal examination and studied the precedents of action taken in similar cases. House Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu wanted to constitute a special committee with members from all parties to investigate the August 11 events. But Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, on behalf of the Congress, declined to join such a committee. In a letter addressed to Mr. Naidu on September 9, he said such a committee seemed to be designed to intimidate the MPs into silence. Few other Opposition parties also conveyed a similar stand. Since then, the probe has come to a grinding halt and Mr. Naidu’s office is left exploring the next course of action.

“The Leader of the Opposition has made the Opposition position abundantly clear to the Chairman, who sadly has not been exactly non-partisan like say Bhairon Singh Shekhawat (former Vice President) used to be,” Congress Chief Whip in the Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh said.

CPI(M) MP Elamaram Kareem, who was named in the initial report filed by the parliamentary security, said the sole reason for the August 11 incident was the Government’s staunch refusal to follow parliamentary norms. “Twenty-two Opposition parties wanted the Insurance Bill to go to a Parliamentary Select Committee. But the Government stubbornly refused the demand. They are waiving a rule book at us without following it themselves,” he stated. The Rajya Sabha secretariat had been equally indifferent to complaints filed by the Opposition. “I wrote to Chairman Mr. Naidu that I was assaulted by Parliament marshals, but more than 70 days later, I have not got a response,” he added.

Floor leader of the Biju Janata Dal Prasanna Acharya said that only the House had the authority to act in such cases and whatever disciplinary action had to be taken had to be based on consultation and consensus. “What happened was unfortunate and efforts should be made so that such an incident is not repeated. But the responsibility to maintain peace in Parliament is the exclusive responsibility of neither the Opposition nor the Government. The two sides have to work together,” he observed.