Just before the lunch break, Congress leader P Chidambaram said he had asked the Parliamentary Research and Information Support for Members of Parliament (Prism) what questions had been admitted and answered on Manipur since the session began. “The answer shocked me. Not one question has been admitted or answered on the subject,” he said.
Leader of the House and Union minister Piyush Goyal called Chidambaram’s observation “unfortunate” and demanded his apology for dragging the Chairman of the House, Jagdeep Dhankhar, into a controversy. He also demanded that the members who did not ask questions during Question Hour even when they were present in the House shouldn’t be allowed to ask questions in future.
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Just before Goyal spoke, Dhankhar said, “I had to suffer a spectacle today… I called out the question number, the name of the member, and they were present in the House. They did not focus on their question and went into transgression. This is not expected.” With many members not asking supplementaries, the RS completed all the questions in half an hour.
Earlier in the day, opposition MPs kept demanding that business be suspended to take up a discussion on Manipur and PM Modi’s response on the matter, which was rejected by the Chair while maintaining that the government has agreed for a short-duration discussion and he will fix the time for this. But the opposition MPs did not relent and most part of the pre-lunch session was marred by allegations and counter-allegations.
The Chair had received 42 notices from members under Rule 267 demanding a discussion on Manipur. He had received representations under Rule 176 from several MPs from Northeast for a short discussion on the Manipur situation.
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There were many instances of face-offs. In a heated exchange, a fuming finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman asked opposition MPs to apologise for their “dhokhebaaz” (cheat) jibe in the RS. “I am astonished to hear a member of this House call other members ‘dhokhebaaz’. The member should apologise. I condemn this,” she said.
Earlier, Congress president and the leader of opposition, Mallikarjun Kharge claimed that his mike had been switched off when he spoke in the House on Tuesday when the deputy chairman was in the Chair. He said, “Speaking on the mike is my privilege. By switching off the mike, I was insulted and my self-respect was challenged.”
Dhankhar had told the House that the mike was not switched off and the rules don’t allow members to transgress from the subject under discussion. “Any transgression that takes place… everyone in the House is aware that cannot be allowed. At that stage, the deputy chairperson intervened. “So, it’s not that mics were turned off,” he said.