Uproar in Parliament over India-China clash

Opposition MPs walk out from the Rajya Sabha during the ongoing Winter Session, in New Delhi on December 13, 2022.
| Photo Credit: PTI

The Opposition staged a walkout in both Houses of Parliament on Tuesday after being denied a discussion on the recent clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.

As the Lok Sabha convened for the day, Speaker Om Birla directed that Question Hour be taken up. However, members of the Opposition, led by Congress’s Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary and Gaurav Gogoi and DMK’s T.R. Baalu demanded a discussion on the border situation.

At this, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will make a statement on the matter at 12 p.m. The Opposition MPs, however, demanded an immediate discussion. Mr. Gogoi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should make a statement.

As the Opposition remained unrelenting, Speaker Birla said if the MPs wanted a discussion, then they should come via the Business Advisory Committee and adjourned the house till 12 p.m.

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When the House reconvened and Rajnath Singh made his statement, the Opposition again demanded a discussion. However as the Speaker denied it, they staged a walkout.

The Rajya Sabha, too, witnessed similar scenes as protests demanding a debate on the border situation began right from the moment the House sat for the day.

As a response to the protests, the Defence Minister’s statement, which was originally scheduled for 2 p.m., was preponed to 12.30 p.m. and amid the din, the Upper House was adjourned till 12 p.m.

When it reconvened, Congress president and Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge moved a motion under Rule 267 demanding a suspension of business to discuss the border clash.

“Our national security and territorial integrity is being impinged upon by brazen Chinese transgressions as the government remains a mute spectator,” Mr. Kharge said while moving the motion.

He underlined and acknowledged the valour of Indian armed forces, especially in Galwan Valley, and added that the “illegal and unprovoked Chinese transgressions that started in April 2020 continues till date”.

The Chinese, he pointed out, have also built up a building of PLA’s divisional headquarters, army garrison, and weapon shelters for artillery, anti-aircraft guns and armoured carriers next to the Pangong Tso lake area, which is being continuously ignored by the government.

“The government also remains oblivious to the Chinese construction of a new radome and two high-frequency microwave towers and other ongoing construction in the area,” he added.

The Congress president was shouted out by Treasury Benches as soon as he mentioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s June 20, 2020 statement where he had said that “no one has entered into our territory”.

The uproar resumed, when after the Defence Minister’s statement, Mr. Harivansh, citing four previous precedents, said that clarifications cannot be allowed on “sensitive issues”.

His comment drew jeers from the Opposition, who stood up in protest. After a few minutes of slogan shouting and discussion among themselves, the Opposition members staged a walkout. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) MP Manoj K. Jha was seen persuading many reluctant Opposition members to walk out. Aam Aadmi Party MPs were among the last to walk out.

Addressing the media outside the House, the MPs, “We have repeatedly asked for a debate on the Chinese transgressions but the government has refused it. There is no point of sitting in the House, if the government refuses to give a clarification”.

“The Defence Minister himself walked out without replying to any of our questions, so what choice do we have,” Mr. Kharge said.

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said the MPs are being denied their parliamentary privileges, because in Rajya Sabha it is a norm to allow for clarifications to government statements.

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