Rajya Sabha adjourned till 1.45 pm despite consensus over Covid debate

The morning session was a washout, with Opposition members demanding discussion on various issues including the Pegasus spyware row.

The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the third time on Tuesday despite consensus between leaders of various parties to allow the House to function from 1.45 pm, when a discussion on the Covid-19 pandemic is taken up.

The morning session was a washout, with Opposition members demanding discussion on various issues including the Pegasus spyware row. As many as 15 notices were given to the Chairman to suspend the House Business and take up the discussions. The 15 notices follow 17 that were given to the Chairman on Monday.

Within minutes of the starting of the proceedings, Opposition members began to raise their concerns and stood at their seats. “You want the House to be adjourned? How is it possible? How can anybody answer (with) this many number of people standing simultaneously?”

Deputy Leader of Opposition Congress member Anand Sharma then requested Chairman Venkaiah Naidu “please do consider”. He added that the “House meets very sparingly, because of the pandemic. Sittings are also restricted.”

Sharma said that “they are issues of concern”.

Responding, Naidu said that “I understand if there is a problem of national security, something serious has happened, you have to suspend the business and take up that matter, provided the Chairman goes to the notice and admits it.”

He said the 17 notices on Monday and 15 on Tuesday to suspend the House business were for different topics. But as he began with the Zero Hour business, Opposition again rose up in protest, and the House was adjourned for an hour.

As the House resumed at noon, Deputy Chairman Harivansh tried to start with the Question Hour, but the Opposition continued to demand the discussions they had asked for, and some entered the well of the House, and started shouting slogans.

Harivansh announced an “important message” that “sometime back, leaders of all the parties had met the Chairman, and had agreed that there will be a discussion on Covid from 1 PM, and the Chairman has agreed to the proposal.” The House was again adjourned.

Sources mentioned that the House will “resume normal functioning” with the Covid discussion. This was facilitated in a meeting between Naidu, Leader of the House Piyush Goyal and Opposition leaders including Sharma and Jairam Ramesh of the Congress, Derek O` Brien of TMC, Tiruchi Siva of DMK, Harivansh and Minister of State of Parliamentary Affairs Muraleedharan, sources said.

During the meeting, a source stated, “Naidu stressed the need for return to normal in the House so that all important issues can be discussed in an orderly manner”. He agreed to enable a Short Duration Discussion on Covid and also to relax the time limit so as to have four hours of discussion.

Goyal, sources said, had held “informal discussions with Opposition leaders seeking their cooperation for resumption of normal functioning” of the Rajya Sabha and then met Naidu along with leaders of the Opposition soon after the first adjournment of the House” in the morning.

The discussion on Covid will be for four hours and the Minister of Health and Family Welfare will give his reply at 5 PM.

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