Rajya Sabha off to a smooth start, Opposition on board

Barring a 20-minute adjournment forced by a protest by the Telugu Desam Party demanding an immediate discussion on Andhra Pradesh, the Rajya Sabha worked smoothly on the first day of the monsoon session as the Opposition parties isolated the TDP and refused to allow the party to disrupt the House.

Two Bills were passed and the Question Hour went on without disruptions.

Wednesday’s smooth start needs to be seen in context of the previous two sessions. During the winter session of last year and the budget session this year, the Rajya Sabha had a total of 43 sittings but could take up the Question Hour only on six days.

Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu said he had received notices from several members, including TDP member C.M. Ramesh, for suspension of rules to discuss various issues.

For Zero Hour

He allowed all the notices to be converted into Zero Hour mentions, barring the one given by the TDP member.

Stating that the notice by Mr. Ramesh was about an important issue, Mr. Naidu said the matter had been raised earlier too. But the agitation continued. Mr. Naidu decided to allow a detailed short-duration discussion.

“After consulting the Minister concerned, we will decide the date at the earliest, maybe tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,” he said.

When TDP member Y.S. Chowdary interjected seeking a solution, the Chairman said that at the all-party meeting, it was agreed to hold a discussion.

The Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition were also on board. “We cannot have a discussion just like that because the Minister has to be available,” Mr. Naidu said.

Banner in protest

Meanwhile, Congress MP K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao from Andhra Pradesh raised a protest banner. He withdrew it after Mr. Naidu objected. While the TDP members insisted that the debate be held immediately, Mr. Naidu adjourned the House till noon.

During the adjournment, Mr, Naidu conferred with the floor leaders of all the parties.

Several Opposition leaders expressed concern over the House not functioning properly over the last two sessions and “the devaluation of legislators in the esteem of the people”. The TDP was isolated as all the other political parties insisted that there be a structured discussion on Andhra Pradesh instead of wasting the entire session in protests.

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