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Indian opposition parties boycott Parliament session

Opposition parties say their voice is being muzzled outside as well as inside Parliament

New Delhi: The opposition on Tuesday boycotted the Rajya Sabha in the post lunch session, complaining that their voice was being muzzled outside as well as inside Parliament.

As soon as the House met at 2pm, Leader of Opposition Gulam Nabi Azad raised the issue of the House being adjourned without conducting the Zero Hour and the Question Hour for the past few days.

He said Parliament works according to “rules, regulations, procedures and conventions” and not “according to one’s whims”.

Azad was joined by other opposition leaders, including Samajwadi Party’s Naresh Agarwal, Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien and Communist Party of India-Marxist’s Tapan Sen in the protest.

Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien said the chairman’s decisions could not be questioned in the House and the aggrieved members could meet the chairman in his chamber.

At this, an enraged Azad announced that the opposition was boycotting the House for the day and the entire opposition then walked out of the House. Kurien adjourned the House to 3pm.

In the morning, Derek O’Brien had given a notice under Rule 267 to discuss the alleged overreach of West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi in trying to bypass the state government in administrative matters.

Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu rejected the notice and when O’Brien persisted with the matter during the Zero Hour, Naidu adjourned the House till 2pm, skipping even the Question Hour that is held from 12 noon to 1pm.

The TMC leader had tweeted: “Murder of democracy. Opposition being muzzled in Rajya Sabha #Parliament. We are not even being allowed to raise issues in Zero Hour. We will not put up with this.”

Outside the House, opposition leaders told journalists an attempt was being made to stifle the opposition’s voice for the “last one week or so” and called it an attack on their democratic rights.

Speaking to the media, Azad said: “In the Zero Hour, important issues are raised. But what is happening for the last one week that when a member gives notice for speaking in Zero Hour, without hearing him/her, the House is adjourned until 2pm. That means the House is not being run according to rules and procedures of Parliament.

“So if we are not allowed to speak as per the rules and procedures of the House, naturally we will have to boycott and we will have to air our views in public through the media.”

Asked if he was attacking the Vice-President of India, Azad said he was not attacking one person in particular but “any person presiding over the House, who fails to conduct the House according to rules and procedures”.

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