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Rajya Sabha TV Footage Contradicts Deputy Chairman's Claim Of Members Not Being Seated While Asking For Division

The Deputy Chairman Harivansh said that he rejected the opposition’s demand for a division of votes in view of the controversial farm bills in Rajya Sabha, because the demand wasn’t made by members from their seats.

The Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha Harivansh Narayan Singh said that he rejected the opposition's demand for a division of votes in view of the controversial farm bills in Rajya Sabha because the demand wasn't made by members from their seats.

Amid the ruckus that was going on in the house after the bills were passed, Harivansh was heard asking the members to be seated.

However, The Indian Express reviewed official footage of Rajya Sabha Television that showed the contrary. The media explained the sequence of events that took place from 1:00 PM to the time the Deputy Chairman extended the sitting to 1.26 PM.

Harivansh told Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who was replying to the discussion on the two Bills, that it was 1 pm. To this, the Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi proposed extension of the House.

The Deputy Chairman then asked whether the House was ready to sit till the disposal of the Bill. The opposition, Congress members Anand Sharma and Jairam Ramesh demanded proceedings be continued for Monday. The Deputy Chairman anyway extended the time and asked Tomar to continue. Following, the members rush to the Well shouting slogans.

A few minutes later, leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the extension should be done 'on the basis of consensus', as most of the parties are asking for not extending the time.

The Deputy Chairman began disposing of statutory resolutions before the passage of the Bill amid slogan-shouting by Opposition members. He then called CPM's KK Ragesh, who had moved a statutory resolution, and side by side directed an unidentified member in the Well to go to his seat in the gallery upstairs. Ragesh was seated in the gallery.

Harivansh then took up a motion moved by Ragesh seeking reference of the Bill to a select committee, and the motion was negated in a voice note. Around 1:09 pm, he took up a motion moved by Trinamool Congress's Derek O'Brien who sought reference of the Bill to select the committee. The motion again was negated by a voice vote-seeking division.

Post this, the audio went off for a couple of seconds. Then Harivansh took up a motion moved by DMK member Tiruchi Siva seeking reference of the Bill to a select committee. The motion again was negated by a voice vote.

The Deputy Chairman later was heard saying that demand for division should be made from the seat.

The visuals clearly showed Siva and Ragesh in their seats, with one hand raised demanding division, while O'Brien rushes to the Chairman's podium with a copy of the rule book in his hand and shouting "you cannot do this….what is the rule".

Amid the ruckus, an unidentified member was seen uprooting microphones installed on the Chairman's podium. Following, the house was adjourned for 15 minutes.

When the media contacted O'Brien, he said he demanded division from his seat. "Between us, Siva and I have 30 years of experience in Parliament. We knew we had moved motions, we had our headsets on. Of course, we were at our seats. Our calls for 'division' (voting) were brazenly ignored multiple times. The video and audio evidence is damning. At least four Rules of Parliament were broken", he told The Sunday Express.

Ragesh told the media that he went to the Well when the Chairman extended the time. But when the Minister stopped his speech and the Deputy Chairman began the process of disposing of the statutory resolutions, he immediately went back to his seat and demanded division. "I screamed division but the Deputy Chairman did not look up at me. When the Deputy Chairman took up my amendment after O'Brien's and Siva's motions, my microphone came alive. The Deputy Chairman looked at me."

When asked as to why they asked for deferment until Monday, Ragesh said that since half the Rajya Sabha members were sitting in Lok Sabha, electronic voting would not have been possible. Voting can be done only through the paper ballot. So voting even once would have taken at least 30 minutes. Keeping this in mind, the opposition had demanded that the proceedings be continued on Monday.

Defending his stance, Siva said that he was seated when he asked for division and shouted several times. However, the deputy chairman did not notice.

The media sent the questions to Harivansh but received no response. Sources told the media that he was 'distracted' by members who were moving close to his podium as he was trying to see that the papers were not snatched from him, and might have missed looking at some people who claim to be seated while demanding division.

Also Read: BJP's Oldest Ally, Shiromani Akali Dal Quits NDA Over Farm Bills

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Writer : Devyani Madaik
Editor : Shubhendu Deshmukh
Creatives : Abhishek M

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