The Rajya Sabha on Friday witnessed repeated adjournments as angry Congress members accused the BJP of “stealing” party lawmakers, after the defection of five Congress MLAs to the BJP in Gujarat.
The Congress accused the BJP government in Gujarat and at the Centre of pressurising Congress legislators to quit the party and join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The House was adjourned till 2.30 p.m. – the fourth time in one and a half hours — by Chairman Hamid Ansari amidst pandemonium by Congress MPs.
As soon as the House met at 12 p.m. after two adjournments, the Congress members stood up and started shouting slogans. The Chair adjourned the House for 15 minutes.
However, the Congress MPs again resumed sloganeering when the House met. Ansari reiterated that the members should raise the issue with the “designated agency”.
As the Congress members did not relent, Ansari then adjourned the House till 2.30 p.m.
Earlier, as soon as the Upper House met for the day, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma raised the issue of the MLAs’ defection and alleged that Congress MLA Poonaji Gavit was “abducted” by the police.
“Many MLAs are being abducted. Constitutional violation is taking place. They are in the habit of stealing MLAs – which they showed in Goa and Manipur. Now they are showing it in Rajya Sabha elections,” Sharma said.
Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien asked the protesting members as to what he could do in this matter and advised the aggrieved members to raise the issue with the Election Commission.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged that Gujarat police officers were promising Congress MLAs tickets for the election.
“Will the police officers now decide who the Congress will give tickets to?” Azad said.
Subsequently, the opposition members trooped near the Chair’s podium and started shouting slogans saying “Stop killing Constitution, stop killing democracy”.
When Kurien remarked what he could do in the matter, Azad replied: “You can direct the Election Commission to conduct free and fair elections.”
Kurien replied: “The Election Commission does not need directions from the Chair. It is constitutionally bound to hold free and fair election.”
Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi objected to Azad’s demand saying “tomorrow they will demand the Chair to give directions to the Supreme Court”.
As the protest continued even after the first adjournment of 10 minutes, the House was adjourned again till 12 p.m.
On Friday two more Gujarat Congress MLAs quit the party, a day after three legislators resigned from the party and joined the BJP.
Chhanabhai Chaudhary, a legislator from the tribal Vansda constituency, and Mansinh Chauhan from Balasinor, submitted their resignations to Speaker Ramanlal Vora.
Balwantsinh Rajput, MLA from Siddhpur, Tejashree Patel from Viramgam, and Vijapur legislator P.I. Patel submitted their resignations on Thursday afternoon and joined the BJP.
Within minutes of joining the BJP, Rajput was named the party’s third Rajya Sabha candidate besides national president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani.
Shah, Irani and Rajput filed nominations for the August 8 Rajya Sabha elections on Friday.
For the Congress, party chief Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel on Wednesday filed papers seeking a fifth term in the Upper House.