Left parties’ ‘insulting’ behaviour angers Somnath (Lead)

October 24th, 2008 - 9:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Somnath ChatterjeeNew Delhi, Oct 24 (IANS) Angered over the constant needling of the Left parties who sought an adjournment motion on the anti-Christian violence in Orissa and Karnataka, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee Friday abruptly left the house, alleging that the chair was being insulted.There were some sharp exchanges between the former Marxist stalwart and his once comrades-in arms, provoking Chatterjee to accuse them of being “allergic” toward him. He then invited Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal to take the chair and strode into his chamber - after first profusely thanking Railway Minister Lalu Prasad for his support in controlling the proceedings.

The house witnessed dramatic scenes after question hour when Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Das Gupta, referring to the rule book, raised a point of order against the speaker’s ruling that a discussion on the violence would be allowed under rule 193 and not as an adjournment motion as Basudeb Acharya of the Communist Party of India-Marxist had demanded.

A discussion on an adjournment motion requires voting while that under rule 193 does not.

Chatterjee then invited Acharya to speak but Das Gupta intervened to say that the government’s view should be sought on whether it favoured an adjournment motion or a discussion under rule 193.

Quoting the page 31 of the rule book, Gupta said that it was imperative that government makes its stance clear before the speaker delivers his verdict.

“I am not questioning your authority. I am only quoting the rule book. The government must say that they are not in favour of an adjournment motion and only in that case can you can give whatever direction you like,” Gupta maintained.

Acharya then pointed out that he had been seeking an adjournment motion ever since the present session began Oct 17.

Irked over Das Gupta’s demand, Chatterjee said: “You have started getting allergic against me. You are continuously insulting the chair. There is a limit. You are deliberately doing it. If you want to insult the chair, do it.’

Acharya said the Left was not insulting the chair.

“What is going on here?” the speaker retorted.

“Do not insult the chair. If you do, then you are insulting the whole house. Deliberately you are doing it. Either you are deliberately doing it or unknowingly doing it. I am prepared to give that concession - if you want to insult the chair and raise the dignity of the house, then do it.

“I am prepared. Honourable deputy speaker may please preside over the proceedings of the house. I would not sit in this chair,” a visibly angry Chatterjee said, adding: “This is the way you are behaving. You have no sense of duty to the House.

“What is going on in this House? Anything can be said! It is being said that for four days I have not allowed it (the adjournment motion). At what hour could it have been raised? From 11′ o clock you have started shouting. I have been appealing with folded hands to please allow the matter to be discussed.

“I will allow all matters to be discussed. Every time you are making allegations against the speaker. What have I committed?” the speaker said

Though Yadav said “do not take notice of them”, Chatterjee continued: “They are honourable members of the house. I have to take notice of them.”

Lalu, looking at the speaker, then said: “We are with you.”

Chatterjee expressed his gratitude to the minister and asked Acharya to continue. A few moments later, he invited the deputy speaker to take the chair and left the house.

Earlier, Left party MPs and the speaker had an argument on the notice they had served of a breach of privilege motion against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Referring to the rule book, Chatterjee said he was not satisfied with the notice. When Varkala Radhakrishnan of the CPI-M questioned the ruling, Chatterjee said: “You can bring a motion saying the speaker is misleading the house.’

Acharya’s speech on the Orissa violence was continuously disrupted by Biju Janata Dal members. Other NDA members also disrupted the speech, alleging that the West Bengal government had “butchered” Muslims in Nandigram and thus did not have any moral right to raise the Orissa incidents in the house.

Acharya’s reference to the 2002 Gujarat violence was objected to by BJP members and subsequently, 20 minutes before the lunch break, the deputy speaker adjourned the house till 2.00 p.m.

The CPI-M had expelled Chatterjee for refusing to step down ahead of the July 22 trust vote in parliament that had been prompted by the Left parties withdrawing their support to the government on the India-US nuclear deal.

Chatterjee had contended that as the speaker, he was apolitical despite his decades-long association with the CPI-M.

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