The Telegraph
Thursday , December 15 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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PC shouted down in Parliament

New Delhi, Dec. 14: Union home minister P. Chidambaram was booed repeatedly and stopped from speaking at least a dozen times during question hour in the Rajya Sabha today.

MPs of the BJP-led NDA continued their boycott of Chidambaram over the 2G scam, chanting “hai hai (shame, shame)” and “istifa do (give your resignation)” whenever he rose to speak.

The 2G court will this weekend hear a plea by Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy to make Chidambaram an accused in the spectrum case.

The minister, who relishes a spirited debate with Opposition members in particular with fellow lawyer Arun Jaitley of the BJP today kept his replies concise, reading from sheets provided by ministry officials.

Chidambaram’s attempts to smile and put down some of the slogan-shouting members, such as the AIADMK’s V. Maitreyan and BJP’s Rudranarayan Pani, didn’t yield results. Congress members could do little to help him.

Every time a question was posed, Chidambaram was shouted down, his answers barely audible in the House.

But when Chidambaram’s deputy in the ministry, Jitendra Singh, rose to give an answer, he was allowed to speak undisturbed by the Opposition which made it clear it was singling out Chidambaram.

Last week, another junior minister, Mullappally Ramachandran, had to introduce the Citizenship Amendment Bill in both Houses, apparently to avoid trouble by Opposition members who had vowed to disrupt proceedings if Chidambaram moved the legislation.

The home minister was cornered when he could not give answers to some of the questions asked.

Trinamul’s D. Bandopadhyay asked how many of the 1,574 custody deaths reported between April 2010 and March 2011 had injury marks. The CPM’s Tapan Kumar Sen wanted to know how many of these were natural deaths and the role of police and prison officials.

Chidambaram responded that he would have to get the information from the states.

A similar answer to a supplementary question by the BSP’s Naresh Agarwal prompted the MP to dub the home minister “insensitive”. Agarwal walked out, fellow party MPs in tow.

Asked about last month’s stampede in Haridwar, Chidambaram said “the inquiry is still under way”. Over 20 devotees, including 18 women, had died in the November 8 incident.

On a supplementary question about rising crimes against Dalit Christians and another on the role of the police in riot situations, Chidambaram defended the forces, saying they were doing an unenviable job and it would be unfair to allege excesses in all such incidents of violence.