Commerce minister Piyush Goyal suggested in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that till Rahul Gandhi apologises for “insulting Parliament”, the Opposition members protesting with placards in the House should be held responsible and suspended.
The demand for suspension of the Opposition MPs indicated that the government was determined to shut out any discussion on or probe into the allegations of financial irregularities against the Adani group even at the cost of a washout of the Parliament session.
Both Houses of Parliament were adjourned for the third day amid uproarious slogans as neither the government nor the Opposition showed any signs of budging from their respective demands. The Opposition raised slogans demanding a joint parliamentary committee probe into the Adani affairs, while the BJP members shouted “Rahul maafi mango”.
The Congress leader had during his recent UK tour alleged that the Opposition’s voice was being suppressed in Parliament and democracy was in peril in India.
“Mr Speaker, this is a very serious issue…. A member of the House insults Parliament on foreign land. Till he tenders an apology, the responsibility for the insult should be fixed on them (the protesting Opposition members),” Goyal told the Lok Sabha.
“If they don’t feel the insult and continue to behave like this in the House, then I think those who are showing placards here should be suspended,” he added.
Goyal is the leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha and his appearance in the Lok Sabha to intensify the offensive against Rahul indicated the government’s determination. His demand for suspension came after Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla sought to reprimand the Opposition members for waving placards and stressed that they should not indulge in criticism of Parliament, inside or outside the House.
In the Rajya Sabha, the government appeared equally bent on preventing any mention of the Adani issue in the records. Just as Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar started reading notices moved by Opposition members demanding a discussion on the Adani-Hindenburg row, parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi rose to intervene, without the Chair’s permission, to demand that Rahul apologise for his remarks on democracy in India.
The minister’s intervention cut short Dhankhar’s reading of the notices moved by the Opposition members under Rule 267, seeking a suspension of other House business to discuss the Adani matter. The BJP members raised slogans of “Rahul Gandhi maafi mango” as Joshi spoke.
The Opposition countered with slogans for a JPC probe into the Adani group. Dhankhar adjourned the House till 2pm. Joshi intervened during the brief post-lunch session, hitting out at Rahul again, alleging that the Congress leader had insulted Parliament and the Speaker and he should apologise.
CPM MP Elamaram Kareem told The Telegraph that the government had come prepared to deny any mention of Adani’s name in the Rajya Sabha.
Dhankhar had read the topics of the notices on Tuesday, most of them seeking a discussion on Adani. In addition to the offensive inside Parliament, women and child development minister Smriti Irani was fielded outside to slam Rahul.
“It is shameful that Rahul Gandhi, instead of coming to Parliament and apologising for his undemocratic rant against India, seeks to be absent from Parliament. Democracy, Mr Rahul Gandhi, is not in peril. The Congress party has been brought to political perish by the people of India…,” she said.