Rajya Sabha adjourned again — over insurance bill


New Delhi : The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the third time Monday shortly after noon, this time following a scuffle between ruling and opposition MPs over the insurance bill.

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Earlier, the house was adjourned twice over the remarks by Minority Affairs Minister A.R. Antulay questioning the death of Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare during the Mumbai terror attack.

At 12.10 p.m., just after the upper house of parliament convened for the third time, MPs from the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) objected to the tabling of the insurance bill that aims to partially deregulate the sector.

Amid the uproar, Deputy Chairman K. Rahman, who was presiding over the house, asked Minister of State for Finance Pawan Kumar Bansal to go ahead and table the papers.

As Bansal started to do so, some CPI-M MPs attempted to snatch the papers from him. At this, senior Congress MP and Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee rushed to the minister’s defence.

There was even a scuffle between Mukherjee and some CPI-M MPs before other MPs rushed and separated them.

At this point, Rahman adjourned the house till 2 p.m.

This was the third adjournment of the day in the Rajya Sabha. The earlier ones occurred when MPs from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) shouted slogans and advanced towards the presiding officer’s podium, demanding a statement from Home Minister P. Chidambaram or Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the Antulay affair.

As appeals from Vice President Hamid Ansari – who was presiding over the house at that time – failed to restore calm, he adjourned the house for 10 minutes at 11.10 a.m.

When the house reassembled after 10 minutes, the NDA MPs continued to shout slogans despite Ansari’s pleadings: “Please don’t do this. The government has said it will make a statement.”

But the appeal did not pacify the opposition MPs. Ansari then adjourned the house till noon.

Antulay had hinted that Karkare’s death could be linked to the Sep 29 Malegaon bombing he was investigating and in which members of Hindu radical groups are the main suspects.