Rajya Sabha adjourned again, again over Antulay (Third Lead)

December 22nd, 2008 - 4:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Dec 22 (IANS) The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the fourth time Monday when it convened post lunch as opposition MPs raised a storm over Minority Affairs Minister A.R. Antulay’s remarks questioning the death of Maharashtra police officer Hemant Karkare in the Mumbai terror attacks. The upper house of parliament had been adjourned on this issue twice in the morning and then for a third time at noon following a scuffle between ruling and opposition MPs over the insurance bill.

Soon after the house met at 2 p.m, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) M. Venkaiah Naidu termed Antulay’s remarks “anti-national”. “They have broken the unity of the government and the country,” he said as other BJP members raised slogans against the minister.

Despite assurances from External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee that the government will make a statement before the house adjourns Tuesday, the furious opposition members did not return to their seats.

But amid the din, a bill to set up a South Asian University was passed by voice vote.

Eventually, after failing to bring order, the chair adjourned the house till 3 p.m.

Antulay had hinted that the death of Karkare, who headed the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), could be linked to the Sep 29 Malegaon bombing he was probing and in which Hindu radicals are the main suspects.

Earlier, when the house met for the third time at 12.10 p.m., legislators of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) objected to the tabling of the insurance bill that aims to partially deregulate the sector.

Amid the uproar, Deputy Chairman K. Rahman, who was presiding over the house, asked Minister of State for Finance Pawan Kumar Bansal to go ahead and table the papers.

As Bansal started to do so, some CPI-M MPs attempted to snatch the papers from him. At this, Minister Mukherjee rushed to Bansal’s defence.

There was a scuffle between Mukherjee and some CPI-M MPs before other MPs rushed and separated them.

At this point, Rahman adjourned the house till 2 p.m.

This was the third adjournment of the day in the Rajya Sabha.

The earlier ones occurred when MPs from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) shouted slogans and advanced towards the presiding officer’s podium, demanding a statement from Home Minister P. Chidambaram or Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the Antulay affair.

As appeals from Vice President Hamid Ansari - who was presiding over the house at that time - failed to restore calm, he adjourned the house for 10 minutes at 11.10 a.m.

When the house reassembled after 10 minutes, the NDA MPs continued to shout slogans despite Ansari’s pleadings: “Please don’t do this. The government has said it will make a statement.”

But the appeal did not pacify the opposition MPs. Ansari then adjourned the house till noon.

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