The bill to create Telangana did not clear its passage through the Lok Sabha on Tuesday without its bit of controversy. Speaker Meira Kumar’s decision to allegedly ignore demand for a division or voting by members in the House frustrated Opposition members.
Trinamool Congress veteran Saugata Roy was heard saying a few times in the Lok Sabha, “We are not sheep. Why are the members being asked to stand to count their heads?” TMC chief Mamata Banerjee also echoed a similar tone outside in Delhi, “The bill has been passed in an illegal way, we will complain to the President tomorrow why division was not allowed.”
Minutes after the bill was passed, pro-Seemandhra minister KS Rao also expressed his unhappiness over the issue. “It was not right way to pass the bill,” he said to media. AIADMK member M Thambi Durai also supported Roy’s pitch for a division.
Lok Sabha secretariat, however, pointed out that the Speaker acted purely according to the rule book. LS secretary S Bal Shekhar told HT, “The Speaker acted as per the proviso of section 367 in Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha. There was no deviation from the rules. Earlier too, legislations have been passed through voice vote and head count.”
The proviso to the Section 367 says, “If in the opinion of the Speaker, the Division is unnecessarily claimed, he may ask the members who are for ‘Aye’ and those for ‘No’ respectively to rise in their places and, on a count being taken, he may declare the determination of the House. In such a case, the names of the voters shall not be recorded.”
Union science and technology minister Jaipal Reddy also defended the decision to do a head count. “After the demand for the division was raised, the Speaker had asked members to go to their seats. But they refused to leave the Well of the House,” he said.
Reddy also pointed out, “a numerical minority had held the Lok Sabha hostage for nine days on Telangana. Today, the bill enjoyed an overwhelming majority support. In a democracy, the minority should have their say while the majority will have their way.”