Rajya Sabha stalemate ends with chairman’s statement

New Delhi : The stalemate in the Rajya Sabha over union minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti’s abusive comment ended Monday, after the government and the opposition agreed on a brief statement by the chairman appealing to lawmakers to “maintain civility” in their public discourse.

The upper house saw many disruptions over the abusive comment by Sadhvi Jyoti, who is minister of state for food processing industries in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s council of ministers, and was stalled for the whole of last week.

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Even as Modi made a statement in the house, and urged members to forgive the erring minister, a united opposition continued protests, initially demanding the minister’s removal.

The demand was, however, soon scaled own, and opposition leaders appealed adopting a resolution condemning the hate speech.

When the government did not agree to that either, Congress leader Anand Sharma Monday proposed a different two-line resolution, outlined along the prime minister’s statement in the house.

The resolution proposed by the opposition read: “This house strongly disproves any statement made by any member of parliament, member of cabinet or council of ministers that is inflammatory, derogatory, and violates the letter and spirit of the Constitution and law of the land.”

This was proposed by Anand Sharma Monday morning, but the government was in no mood to accept it, forcing an adjournment in the proceedings.

Later, a meeting of leaders was called by Chairman Hamid Ansari, where it was finally agreed that a statement will be made by the chair, conveying the feelings of what the opposition wanted.

The chairman said: “I wish to say this house, while acknowledging the statement of the prime minister, made in the house Dec 4, appeals to all members of parliament, ministers, and leaders of all political parties, to maintain civility at all costs in all public discourse for the successful functioning of parliamentary democracy and to uphold our commitment to constitutional values.”

The Rajya Sabha resumed normal functions after that, bringing the curtain down on a week-long impasse when the house did not transact any government business.

Sadhvi Jyoti had reportedly said at a Bharatiya Janata Party election campaign rally here: “Aapko tay karna hai ki Dilli mein sarkar Ramzadon ki banegi ya haramzadon ki.” (You have to decide if you want a government in Delhi to be led by the children of Lord Ram or illegitimate children.)

The episode brought together all opposition parties, cornering the government in the upper house where is is not in majority.

Talking to reporters outside parliament, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu expressed happiness over the stalemate coming to an end.

“The impasse in the Rajya Sabha has ended, I am happy about it,” Naidu said.

“The government is willing to discuss every and any issue. We have responded appropriately on every issue raised in either of the houses. It is the responsibility of both the government and the opposition to ensure smooth functioning of parliament,” the minister said.