Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, a relative newcomer to politics, won praise from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and others for the manner in which he controlled the ruckus in the Rajya Sabha Tuesday over physical eviction of seven suspended opposition members from the house.
"I must compliment the chairman and the deputy chairman for the manner in which they handled the situation," Manmohan Singh said while intervening in the over three-hour debate in the Rajya Sabha Tuesday on the Women's Reservation Bill that the house later passed 186-1.
The prime minister prefaced his speech by saying: "I owe you (Ansari) a profound apology for the disrespect shown to you. These things should never have happened. They have happened, and we have to reflect how do we have to streamline our functioning in future so that these things don't take place."
Law Minister Veerappa Moily also spoke in similar vein as the prime minister, complimenting Ansari for the manner in which he had handled the disturbances.
Ansari earlier on Tuesday suspended seven members of the Samajwadi Party, the Janata Dal-United, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Lok Janshakti Party for storming the chairman's podium on Monday, tearing up copies of the bill, uprooting penstands on the chairman's podium and even attempted to approach Ansari.
However, on Tuesday even after three hours of their suspension a little after 12 bnoon, the seven MPs continued to squat in the well of the house.
When the house re-assembled at 3 p.m. after its third adjournment, the suspended MPs raised slogans against the quota bill, even as Ansari called on Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley to initiate the debate on the measure.
With nothing being audible in the din, marshals of parliament's Watch and Ward Staff were summoned to remove the protestors, which some 50 of them managed to do with considerable difficulty.
With order finally restored, Jaitley resumed his speech in which he termed the women's quota bill "one of the most progressive pieces of legislation that has been brought in recent times" and Manmohan Singh described as a "giant step for emancipation of women" and "a celebration of our womanhood".
Also on Tuesday, Manmohan Singh Tuesday telephoned Ansari to express regret at the "unruly behaviour" of the seven opposition MPs.
"The prime minister called up the Rajya Sabha chairman and was unhappy at the unruly behaviour witnessed in the upper house," said an official in the Prime Minister's Office.
The suspended MPs are the Samajwadi Party's Kamal Akhtar, Veerpal Singh Yadav, Amir Alam Khan and Nand Kishore Yadav, the Janata Dal-United's Ejaz Ali, the Lok Janshakti Party's Sabir Ali and the Rashtriya Janata Dal's Subhash Prasad Yadav.
On Monday, Nand Kishore Yadav tried to climb up the chairman's desk but was prevented by a marshal. Subhash Yadav of RJD attempted to uproot the mikes from the chairman's podium, while Kamal Akhtar climbed the reperter's desk ahead of the podium and waved his hand in the air.
Subhash Yadav is RJD chief Lalu Prasad's brother-in-law.