New Delhi: The government yesterday refused to discuss the Israel-Palestine conflict in the Rajya Sabha, saying “no discourteous reference should be made to a friendly nation”, adding “we have friendly relations with both the countries”.
A discussion on the violence in the Gaza Strip and West Bank areas of Palestine was listed in the upper house’s list of business yesterday.
According to members, it was agreed that the discussion would be taken up soon after the question hour.
However, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she was not aware the discussion was listed until she saw the business list for the day.
Almost the entire opposition continued to insist on taking up the discussion saying it was listed in the business of the day.
But, the government wanted to wait till the Rajya Sabha chairman had taken a decision on its letter saying that no discussion be held on the sensitive matter in the house.
“I have written to the chairman (M Hamid Ansari) on this issue,” Sushma Swaraj said.
“I have quoted a rule that says no discourteous reference should be made to a friendly nation. We have friendly relations with both the countries, and any discussion in this house can effect relations with those countries,” she said.
Opposition parties, however, objected to it, saying a debate already listed is a property of the house.
“The government cannot change the list of business. It is a property of the house. The government is setting a wrong precedence,” Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi said.
Janata Dal-United leader K C Tyagi pointed out that similar resolutions on situation in other countries have been adopted in the past.
Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said since the matter had been submitted to the chairman, a decision would be taken by him.
Opposition members refused to accept this and created a din, forcing the house to be adjourned first for 15 minutes and then till 2 pm.
As the house assembled again, the external affairs minister clarified that a debate on the issue was not taken up in the Lok Sabha either as the notice was rejected.
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury, however, said even the chairman cannot disallow a discussion once it has been listed.
“Even the chairman cannot disallow the discussion. The list of business is a property of the house,” Yechury said.
But the government refused to relent, and Kurien said the chair needed more time to take a decision. “These are matters to be looked into on the basis of rule books and constitutions. We as chair need little more time to give a ruling,” Kurien said.
The opposition, however, continued to create a din over the issue, and refused to take up the discussion on the railway budget.
The chair then adjourned the house till 3 pm.
When the house met again, protesting Congress and Samajwadi Party members rushed towards the speaker’s chair, insisting on a discussion, forcing the deputy chairman to adjourn it for the day.