Rajya Sabha adjourned as TMC seeks Rajnath Singh statement on NRC

The Rajya Sabha could not transact any business after lunch on Thursday and was adjourned for the day after Trinamool Congress (TMC) members came to the Well and raised slogans, demanding a statement by Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the exclusion of lakhs of people from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.

A short-duration discussion to be initiated by BJP member Amit Shah on the recent increase in minimum support prices (MSP) of kharif crops could not be taken up. Adjourning the House after 10 minutes of arguments and counter-arguments between ministers and Opposition members, Chairman Venkaiah Naidu said, “Every day it has become a fashion. Let the live telecast be on — let the country see what is happening.”

Soon as the House assembled, TMC’s Derek O’Brien raised the NRC issue and said he had given a notice under Rule 267 and sought to know about the reply by the Home Minister to an impromptu debate that took place on Tuesday.
Naidu replied: “The Home Minister came on the first day, he came on the second day, and he was also there yesterday. He was willing to reply – he stood up, but he was not allowed…. A very wrong message has gone. As the Chairman of Rajya Sabha, I also feel that injustice has been done to the Home Minister because even after patiently hearing all the views on an important and sensitive issue, he could not reply.”

O’Brien got support from NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, who said that since the subject is very sensitive and of national interest, and various views were expressed during the discussion, “it would be in the larger interest that we should hear the Home Minister and know the exact position”.

Congress’s Ghulam Nabi Azad said members from Assam, irrespective of party lines, should be given a chance to speak before the Home Minister’s reply. He said: “…we have no objection on this debate. Everybody wants to participate in this discussion (on farmers). Let this message not go that we are against the farmers, and that we do not want to discuss the issue of farmers’ plight.”

Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma also said members from Assam were not allowed to speak. Countering the Opposition charge, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal pointed towards Shah and said opposition members who are seeking time for members from Assam did not allow the BJP member to speak on the NRC issue on Tuesday.

Amid the melee, Naidu said, “We will take up the farmers’ issue now. Then, as per his (Home Minister’s) convenience, either today or tomorrow, we will take it (NRC) up and also have the views of one or two Assam members.” But the Trinamool members were not convinced and walked into the Well.