In an ugly exchange between the Congress and the ruling government in the Rajya Sabha, principal Opposition party Congress accused the government of scuttling a private member Bill on special status for Andhra Pradesh. This prompted the ruling coalition to react swiftly with a counter charge of the Congress misbehaving with minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
“On Friday there was a (private member) Bill on implementation of package for Andhra Pradesh; the government did not allow that. Members have right to raise the issue. The government has neither implemented the package, nor is it allowing members to take it up,” said Congress leader Anand Sharma as soon as the House met on Monday.
He demanded that the Bill be taken up the coming Friday, which is the designated day for private member business.
Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien, however, pointed out that this week private member resolutions will be taken up.
Soon thereafter, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) accused Congress members of misbehaving with Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Friday when she wanted to raise in the Rajya Sabha the issue of Parliament security in the wake of emergence of a video made and posted by Aam Aadmi Party MP Bhagwant Mann.
Congress member Jairam Ramesh, who along with Renuka Chowdhury is accused of misbehaving with Badal, said in response that they had only an argument with the minister and that they did not “misbehave”.
“Three things were told. That the minister is expected to behave; the action is for the Lok Sabha Speaker to take; and that this is a deliberate attempt to scuttle the Bill on Andhra Pradesh,” Ramesh said.
Congress member Renuka Chowdhury also wondered if a new precedence was being set by taking up issues in the House that happened after the House was adjourned.
“My name has been unnecessarily dragged. Are we setting a precedence by taking cognizance of issues which have taken place after the House has been adjourned?” Chowdhury said.
Congress members said why minister Harsimrat, a Lok Sabha member, was creating “disruption” in the Upper House.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, however, said that the minister was there as per duties given to ministers to be present in the House.
“She wanted permission for two minutes to speak. Had she been given the time, this issue would not have arisen. It is not about Andhra Pradesh,” he said.
The House proceeded to take up the Zero Hour after that.
On Friday, the private member Bill on Andhra Pradesh was listed but could not be taken up as the ruling party members trooped near the Chairman’s podium protesting against Mann’s video that showed him passing through Parliament security check points.
Harsimrat, who was present in the House, wanted to speak on the issue but was not allowed as Deputy Chairman Kurien wanted to introduce the Bill first. The House was adjourned soon thereafter.
Later, Badal wrote to Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Hamid Ansari complaining that two Congress members – Ramesh and Chowdhury – did not allow her to speak in the Upper House when she sought to raise the issue of Parliament security in the wake of Mann’s video.
She said Ramesh and Chowdhury misbehaved with her and demanded that Ansari take action against them.