As the Lok Sabha session resumed at 11 am on Friday, the proceedings remained muted and the Sansad TV camera kept its focus on the Speaker and non-protesting MPs until the House was adjourned within 20 minutes, amid sloganeering between the opposition and treasury benches.
The second part of the budget session, which began on Monday, continues to be a washout so far with little legislative business transacted amid the pandemonium. While the BJP has been seeking an apology from Congress MP Rahul Gandhi over his remarks on Indian democracy in London, the opposition party is firm on its demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the Hindenburg report’s allegations against the Adani group and its alleged links with the government.
Meanwhile, as the session resumed on Friday, Speaker Om Birla told Congress MP Manish Tewari to raise his question about intelligence reports on the Supreme Court collegium. However, as the slogans became loud, Tewari’s audio was ostensibly muted at 11.01 am before he could mention his points – he was seen mouthing some words.
Except for the rare and brief long shots of the protesting MPs, the Sansad TV camera mostly remained fixated on a smiling Birla, giving viewers occasional glimpses of the legislators not party to this pandemonium. A few MPs engaged in conversation, union information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur scanning the papers in his hand, his cabinet colleagues S Jaishankar, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Kiren Rijiju Jitendra Singh, among others, gazing in the distance. Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, wearing a mask, seated.
The microphone was turned on at 11.19 am, amid slogans of “Adani sarkaar down down” and “Rahul ji ko bolne do”. The slogans from the treasury benches were not so decipherable in the 20-minute session.
The next minute, Speaker Birla adjourned the proceedings, saying that he will allow everyone to speak once the House is in order. “Let this House function. You have not been sent to do sloganeering. The people of this country are watching and that’s why I request you to let the House function. Once the House is in order, I will let everyone speak…The House must be in order…you don’t want it to function.”
While talking about democracy “in danger” in London, Rahul Gandhi had also referred to muting of microphones of opposition leaders. “Our mikes are not out of order, they are functioning, but you still can’t switch them on,” he told British MPs. “This happened to me a number of times while I was speaking.”
Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar had hit out at Gandhi over his remarks, saying such a thing was done during the “black chapter of Emergency, but it is not possible now”.
On Friday, after the Lok Sabha was adjourned, the Congress again hit out at the government over the alleged suppression of the opposition’s voice for “PM Modi’s friend”.
à¤¨à¤¾à¤°à¥ à¤²à¤à¥ - à¤°à¤¾à¤¹à¥à¤² à¤à¥ à¤à¥ à¤¬à¥à¤²à¤¨à¥ à¤¦à¥... à¤¬à¥à¤²à¤¨à¥ à¤¦à¥.. à¤¬à¥à¤²à¤¨à¥ à¤¦à¥— Congress (@INCIndia) March 17, 2023
à¤«à¤¿à¤° à¤à¤® à¤¬à¤¿à¤¡à¤¼à¤²à¤¾ à¤®à¥à¤¸à¥à¤à¥à¤°à¤¾à¤ à¤à¤° à¤¸à¤¦à¤¨ à¤®à¥à¤¯à¥à¤ à¤¹à¥ à¤à¤¯à¤¾à¥¤
à¤¯à¥ à¤²à¥à¤à¤¤à¤à¤¤à¥à¤° à¤¹à¥? pic.twitter.com/LL84TP30X6
On Wednesday, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, had reportedly written to Speaker Birla alleging that his microphone had been muted for the last three days.
The opposition has repeatedly alleged that muting of microphones has become a constant feature of parliamentary proceedings over the last few years.
A weekly guide to the best of our stories from our editors and reporters. Note: Skip if you're a subscriber. All subscribers get a weekly, subscriber-only newsletter by default.