2019 Winter Session of Parliament: Opposition protests disrupted Rajya Sabha live telecast four times

In one instance on December 11, the broadcast was disrupted when Assamese MPs started heckling Home Minister Amit Shah while he was introducing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

Live transmission of the Rajya Sabha debate was disrupted four times including this session and on each occasion the immediate provocation was protests from the Opposition on various issues.

The first instance was November 21, when the Opposition raised the issue of electoral bonds and privatisation of public sector units. The transmission was suspended on the directions of Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu for three minutes from 12.01 p.m. to 12.04 p.m.

The second time was on December 10, when Trinamool Congress trooped into the well demanding recall of West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar accusing him of holding the West Bengal Assembly to ransom by holding back key legislation cleared by the Mamata Banerjee Cabinet on formation of the SC and ST commission in the State. Mr. Naidu ordered temporary suspension of the live telecast from 12.03 p.m. to 12:07 p.m.

On December 11, when the Rajya Sabha cleared the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the transmission was suspended twice for very short spells. First at 11.10 a.m. to 11.11 a.m. and then again for 35 seconds at 12.23 p.m.

GST dues issue

When the House met at 11.00 a.m. on Wednesday, Opposition parties including the Trinamool Congress, Telangana Rashtra Samithi and Telugu Desam Party protested against non-payment of GST dues to nine States. Many of the members trooped into the well. For one minute the transmission was suspended.

Telecast was suspended for the second time, on the same day, when the Opposition started heckling Home Minister Amit Shah while he was introducing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha. When Mr. Shah stated that the rights of the Assamese people would be protected by the BJP government many Assamese MPs stood up to protest. Mr. Naidu warned the Opposition members not to interrupt, but when they didn’t calm down for 35 seconds the live transmission was stalled. Sources in RSTV said this happens when the chair presses the red light button, signalling stoppage of telecast.

“Rajya Sabha is the Council of the States when members are expressing themselves…, why censor the voice of States,” TMC Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’ Brien said.

The CPI (M) also concurred with this view. “It’s deeply unfortunate and a violation of our democratic rights. The ruling dispensation has been showing utmost intolerance against the Opposition and other dissenting voices. And it’s a blatant manipulation of resources at their disposal,” CPI (M) MP K.K. Rageesh said.

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