The Center and the Opposition are again at each other’s throats over crimes against women and communal violence in Manipur. Several opposition MPs, for three consecutive working days, submitted adjournment notices in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, while BJP MPs from Rajasthan gathered near the Gandhi statue on the Sangsad Bhavan premises to protest the growing violence against women in Rajasthan and demanded the immediate sacking of state Chief Minister Ashok Sarkar. Opposition Indian MPs also gathered near the Gandhi statue and demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi talk about the situation in Manipur.
The Rajya Sabha Chairman said he received 11 notices for discussion under Rule 176 and 27 under Rule 267 today. BJP MPs Sudhanshu Trivedi and Sushil Modi have given notice to discuss violence during panchayat elections in West Bengal. The Upper House was then adjourned till 12:30 noon. Chairman Jagdeep Dhankar, who has so far not allowed any motions under Rule 267, said last year that motions moved under the rule had “become a familiar process to cause disruption”.
Union ministers and top BJP leaders have repeatedly insisted that the government is ready to discuss Manipur, and that the opposition is “running away” from it. However, they did not make it clear whether the opposition’s specific demand for a lengthy debate in Parliament, adjournment of all other business for the day, was agreed to.
The opposition is demanding a lengthy discussion on Manipur in the Rajya Sabha under Rule 267, while the Center had earlier said it was “enthusiastic and agreeable” to only a brief discussion under Rule 176.
Rule 267 gives a Rajya Sabha MP special powers to suspend the pre-fixed agenda of the House with the approval of the Speaker.
The government’s insistence on Rule 176, or brief discussions during other legislative proceedings, could be seen as a fire-fighting strategy to prevent the Manipur issue, which has caused much public embarrassment, from escalating in Parliament.
Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien said the BJP was in “reactionary mode” and was exhibiting a “copycat” to sidestep the Manipur issue.
“A sure sign that teams in India are doing it right.
A few days ago we announced our dharna at #Gandhi statue in #Parliament on Monday 24th July 10.30 in solidarity with #Manipur
BJP in reactive mode. Copycatting the same venue, hastily announced this morning. Looking for diversion,” he tweeted.
Sure sign that India teams are doing it right.
BJP in reactive mode. Copycatting the same venue, hastily announced this morning. trying to divert
— Derek O’Brien | Derek O’Brien (@derekobrienmp) July 24, 2023
Top BJP leaders had earlier said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who once visited the northeastern state amid heightened violence, would address Parliament on the issue. The prime minister broke her silence on the situation in Manipur on Thursday, nearly 80 days after the violence broke out, saying her heart was filled with pain and anger at the horrific video.
Opposition leaders said that commenting on just one incident (video) was not enough and his comments falsely equated protection of women in Congress-ruled states. Mr. Kharge said the opposition alliance, India, expects him to make a comprehensive statement in Parliament, “not just on one incident, but on the 80 days of violence that your government has conducted in the state and at the Centre, looking utterly helpless and remorseless.”
Both houses of Parliament have been disrupted since the monsoon session began on July 20, with loud protests from opposition parties demanding a detailed discussion on the Manipur unrest and a formal statement by Prime Minister Modi on the matter inside both houses. While the opposition is demanding that all other work be suspended for the day to take up the Manipur issue, the government has so far agreed to hold only a “short-term discussion”.
A huge uproar over a gruesome video of a group of men parading two women naked on a street in Manipur, on the first day of the monsoon session, cut short proceedings in both houses of Parliament, with little legislative business being conducted. Opposition protests continued the next day, with the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha again adjourned for the day.
Union ministers accused the opposition of constantly changing their demands and avoiding discussions in Parliament.
“Their (opposition) MPs also submitted notices under Rule 176. The Chairman was reading them out when they jumped in and said they only wanted a discussion under Article 267. The Chairman explained that he was only reading out a notice in order and would also come up with 267, but they did not listen to him. Then they started demanding that they want to change the junior minister in the House to make a statement in the House and have the junior minister speak.” Ram Meghwal on Friday appealed to the opposition not to politicize it as it was a “sensitive issue”.