Sibal slams Dhankhar for 'frequently interrupting' members in RS

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New Delhi, Jul 10 (PTI) Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal on Wednesday raised questions over the manner in which the Upper House was being run by Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar and claimed that in no country the presiding officer of a House "frequently interrupts" members during the course of their speeches.

Addressing a press conference here, Sibal hit out at the government over a host of issues, including the recent terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir.

He also referred to a media report on "BJP-linked" politicians having bought land in Ayodhya, and commented on the prevailing economic situation of the country.

"Differences are growing in Parliament. The Chiarman of the Rajya Sabha asks members of the House to authenticate statements of fact which are in the public domain and require no authentication. When he says nothing will go on record, the microphones are automatically shut," Sibal said.

"Opposition is not shown on TV screens. The sad part is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a comment on the functioning of our former Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari. This is not right. One should respect that post and not make allegations in the House against someone who cannot respond," he said.

He wondered whether such an allegation also required authentication.

The country's situation will not improve by just making political speeches in the House, he said, hitting out at Modi.

Sibal's remarks come after Congress leader Jairam Ramesh sought breach of privilege proceedings against Prime Minister Modi in the Rajya Sabha for allegedly making "derogatory" remarks against former Rajya Sabha Chairman Ansari.

In his remarks in the Lok Sabha on July 2, Modi had said, "No matter how many numbers they claim, when we came in 2014, our strength in the Rajya Sabha was very low, and the Chair's inclination was somewhat on the other side. But we did not waver from our resolve to serve the country with pride." While Modi did not name anyone, former vice president Ansari was the chairman of the Rajya Sabha from August 2012 to August 2017.

"If PM has made a speech which is a violation of rules, then the primary evidence is the person who has made the remarks. We have not seen such a thing in Parliament in the last 20-30 years," Sibal said.

"If you look at any Parliament in the world and you look at the attitude of any presiding officer...in no country, the presiding officer of a House frequently interrupts in this manner.

"But I guess India has its own unique ways of monitoring the functioning of the House. The treasury benches should change their attitude and consult the opposition in matters of national concern," the Independent Rajya Sabha MP said.

On the recent terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, Sibal said, "When the Prime Minister announced demonetisation, he claimed that violence will stop in Kashmir and terrorism will be checked. This he said in 2016 but such incidents kept on happening. Then Article 370 was abrogated. It is now a Union Territory, which means the government is in direct control. What are they doing?" "The Defence Minister says they will get back Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The Home Minister ((Amit Shah) claims that the situation has improved there. People have the right to know when the situation will normalise.

"Innocent people have been killed. We want to ask the Prime Minister, Home Minister when the situation will normalise and also about the steps taken in the last 10 years to normalise the situation. The country wants an answer," Sibal said.

The former Union minister also cited the media report on land being bought by family members or those closely linked to politicians across parties and government officials.

"You would have seen in a national daily, a special report about land being bought by politicians linked to the BJP. However, because the circle rate has not changed, the farmers are not getting the requisite compensation they are entitled to and instead the politicians are benefitting," he said.

Hitting out at the BJP, Sibal said, "You built the temple, congratulations to you. You tried to take advantage of it politically and now you want to take economic advantage of the situation as well." PTI ASK ASK KVK KVK

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