The controversial Women’s Reservation Bill remained a pipedream on Monday.
The Rajya Sabha failed to pass one of the longest pending legislations in India on International Women’s Day.
A small minority of 10 vocal MPs, strongly opposed to the Bill, carried out their threat of not allowing the House to function, as a helpless majority silently watched copies of the Bill being torn and thrown on a stunned Rajya Sabha Chairman, Hamid Ansari.
Determined not to allow the Bill, which seeks to reserve one-thirds of the seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women, to be passed, the Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal MPs, forced the House to adjourn five times without transacting any business.
As soon as the proceedings began, slogan-shouting members of the two parties demanded implementation of the Ranganath Misra Commission report, which recommended reservation for Muslims in government jobs.
A similar scene was repeated at 12 noon, leading to the second adjournment till 2 pm. Unprecedented scenes followed when the House resumed after lunch.
It was trouble from the word go — the moment Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily stood up to announce that the bill be taken up for discussion and passing, SP and RJD MPs stormed into the well of the House.
Veteran RJD MP Rajniti Prasad tore up the copy of the bill, followed by others. Torn papers were thrown towards Ansari’s seat. They shouted slogans like — “Pichron ke khilaaf saazish nahin chalegi (conspiracy against backwards won’t be allowed).
Nand Kishore Yadav (SP) and Subhash Yadav (RJD) tried to snatch the microphone from Ansari’s table. They managed to damage it and threw away his penstand. Kamal Akhtar (SP) climbed on the officials table, right below Ansari’s seat and tried to snatch papers from his table. Taken aback by the intensity of the protest, a hassled Ansari adjourned the House till 3 pm.
The entire drama was watched by an almost full Rajya Sabha, including 19 ministers. Immediately after the House was adjourned, union ministers Ambika Soni and Anand Sharma were seen instructing the staff to remove the torn papers from the ground.
Nobody moved out of the House, Congress leaders rushed to Ansari’s chamber to apologise, followed by BJP and Left leaders. Around 2:20 pm Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was seen helping the staff remove all articles that could be thrown.
Watch and ward staff was deployed in the entire House to avoid a repeat of what happened.
Senior member P.J. Kurien, who took the chair at 3 pm, adjourned it for an hour within seconds. Same scene was followed an hour later. Following hectic consultations, the House was finally adjourned for the day at 6 pm. There were smiles on the faces of those opposed to the bill.