Placards made a return to Parliament on Thursday as protests erupted against the alleged misuse of investigating agencies, such as the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI, to intimidate the Opposition
During Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge raised the issue of arrests and cases against Opposition parties and also informed the House that he had been summoned by the ED to appear at 12.30pm.
Questioning the timing, Kharge said: “I am a member of the House and also the Leader of the Opposition. When Parliament is going on, I have now got summons from the ED to appear before it. I have to go at 12.30 because I abide by the law. But is it appropriate on part of ED to call me when the Parliament is going on?”
The Congress leader also questioned the deployment of Delhi police personnel around the residences of party president Sonia Gandhi and MP Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday.
“Nearly 500 people have gheraoed the residences of Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. Will democracy survive under this kind of system? Things should happen according to the Constitution. What is happening now is aimed at demoralising us, finishing us and scaring us,” Kharge said.
After the brief comment, Congress Party MPs rushed into the Well and started shouting slogans against the government.
Leader of the House and commerce minister Piyush Goyal denied that Opposition parties were being targeted by the investigating agencies at the behest of government.
“I reject what he said. Government never interferes into the functioning of law enforcement agencies. Possibly during their rule, they would have interfered with these agencies…. So what the LoP said are completely baseless. If anyone has committed any wrong, the legal process takes care of it. On this issue (National Herald case), the matter has gone to the Supreme Court and the Congress top leaders are on bail. When the law is taking its own course, the Congress party should cooperate, not run away,” Goyal said.
Kharge and Congress MP K.C. Venugopal had moved a motion for suspension of listed business and discussion under Rule 267 on misuse of investigating agencies by the government. At 11am, when the House assembled, Chairman Venkaiah Naidu declined the request for a discussion under Rule 267 but allowed Kharge to raise the issue briefly.
But the Congress leader could not make his point as BJP MPs started protesting. The House was briefly adjourned. Kharge left at 12.25pm for the ED office.
Protests continued throughout the Question Hour and in the post-lunch session. Family Courts (Amendment) Bill was passed amid protests.
In the Lok Sabha, the Opposition was back to waving placards and raising slogans in the Well after Congress leader Adhir Chowdhury was refused permission by the Speaker to raise the ED raids in the National Herald case.
Adhir wanted to speak when the House assembled for the day for Question Hour. Speaker Om Birla said he would allow Adhir to speak during Zero Hour at noon, if the protesting MPs returned to their seats. The Opposition insisted on being allowed to speak during Question Hour.
But the Speaker continued with Question Hour in the din and after some time, placards were seen making their way in. Holding placards, the Opposition MPs raised slogans against price rise and misuse of central agencies. Some senior leaders too raised placards. The Speaker adjourned the House.
The Opposition MPs had protested in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday too but without placards. On Monday, the Speaker had revoked the suspension of four Congress MPs on the condition that placards would not be waved in the Well.
After the first adjournment, the House assembled again at 2pm to similar protests, forcing adjournment for the day.