New Delhi: An unprecedented security staff deployment inside the Rajya Sabha chamber to prevent a repeat of the ugly scenes of members climbing on tables did not deter Opposition MPs from creating a ruckus on Wednesday as they tore papers, jostled with the marshals and attempted to go near the presiding officer’s chair.
After a peaceful debate and the smooth passage of a bill to restore the states’ powers to identify and notify their own lists of OBCs, all hell broke loose when the insurance amendment bill to privatise the state-run general insurance companies was taken up.
Calling it a sell-off, the Opposition MPs stormed into the Well of the House shouting anti-government slogans.
They were, however, prevented from going anywhere near the table of the House or the chair by a wall of about 50 security staff that sort of cordoned off what Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu referred to as the “sanctum sanctorum”.
A cross-gender staff deployment — female officers where male MPs were protesting and male officers where female MPs were protesting — was made.
But this did not deter the MPs belonging to a cross-section of opposition parties — from the Congress to the Left to the TMC and to the DMK.
They tore papers, believed to be copies of the bill, and lofted those towards the chair and the House officers. Some tried to break the cordon and jostled with the security staff.
During the melee, the House passed the insurance bill by a voice vote, with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman not even replying to the limited debate that could take place.
The ruckus forced two adjournments and later, when two separate bills on homeopathy and the Indian system of medicine were taken up, the Opposition MPs staged a walk-out.
Leader of the House and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal alleged that an MP tried to “strangulate” a lady security officer.
During the ruckus, the MPs carried placards and shouted slogans. Dola Sen of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) held a string tied around the neck of a fellow MP, who had a placard hung around her neck saying “Democracy Killed”.
Ripun Bora of the Congress made unsuccessful attempts to climb over the marshals to reach the chair.
Some of the MPs whistled and a few others stood up on their seats.
The Opposition MPs shouted slogans when the insurance bill was being passed by the voice vote. A few of them did not even realise that the bill was passed and had to be informed by their leaders.
On Tuesday, TMC, Congress and Left MPs climbed on the House table, which is placed right below the presiding officers’ chair, forcing multiple adjournments. They squatted on the table even when the proceedings were adjourned.