CPWD blames Opposition leaders for muted microphones in RS during farm Bills’ passage

The Opposition had accused the Rajya Sabha authorities of deliberately switching off the microphones to silence the critics of the Bills
The Opposition had accused the Rajya Sabha authorities of deliberately switching off the microphones to silence the critics of the Bills.(File photo)
The Opposition had accused the Rajya Sabha authorities of deliberately switching off the microphones to silence the critics of the Bills.(File photo)
Updated on Nov 30, 2020 12:17 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Saubhadra Chatterji

The government’s construction arm, CPWD, has blamed the Opposition parties for the microphones going silent in the Rajya Sabha during the passage of the contentious farm Bills in September. It led to a brief period of silence on Rajya Sabha TV too.

The Opposition had accused the Rajya Sabha authorities of deliberately switching off the microphones to silence the critics of the Bills.

The CPWD, responsible for the maintenance of the Parliament building, wrote to the Rajya Sabha secretariat, “It is informed that abrupt interruption in the audio feed of the Rajya Sabha proceedings between 13.05hrs and 13.35hrs on September 20 during consideration of two farmer’s bills by Rajya Sabha was due to damage to the chairman’s microphones by the Hon’ble MPs.”

Some Opposition MPs were accused of wrenching the microphone of the deputy chairman Harivansh, storming into the Well of the House, throwing papers and House rule book at the Chair and abusing him. They hurled some papers at the deputy chairman. As many as eight Opposition leaders were suspended till the end of the monsoon session for these “gross disorderly conduct” leading to another round of tussle between the Opposition and the government.

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While the Opposition denied uprooting microphones, the CPWD corroborated with what the government managers had said. “As per the directions of the chair, no other mic was on except those of the chairman. So, when these mics were broken, there was no audio output from the system to RSTV,” it wrote to the Rajya Sabha secretariat.

Ruling out any technical issue causing interruption, it said, “the sound system was working perfectly and audio feed resumed when the broken mics were replaced with the permission of marshals and table office.”

On September 20, Parliament marshals formed a double-layered barricade to protect Harivansh, who was presiding over the proceedings when the MPs charged at him, ostensibly for not paying heed to their demand for a division of votes on the two agricultural reform Bills. The bills were passed by voice vote, without being referred to a select committee of Parliament.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress accused each other of not upholding democratic norms after action was ordered by Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu against MPs from four Opposition parties for their protest in which they stormed the Well of the House and charged towards the Chair, which was at that time occupied by deputy chairman Harivansh.

Trinamool Congress floor leader Derek O’Brien and his colleague Dola Sen; Aam Admi Party’s Sanjay Singh; Congress’s Rajeev Satav, Syed Nasir Hussain and Ripun Borah; and KK Ragesh and Elamaram Kareem of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) were suspended for seven days each. The last time a large group of MPs was suspended from the Upper House was in 2010, when seven MPs from three parties were barred for the rest of the session over their protests against the Women’s Reservation Bill.

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Saturday, October 23, 2021