The Rajya Sabha secretariat has said in its bulletin that demonstrations, dharnas or religious ceremonies cannot be held in the precincts of Parliament House. Though Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla called this a routine process, the opposition alleged this as a practice against democracy.
The new bulletin, which has been issued by Rajya Sabha Secretary General PC Mody ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament beginning July 18, says the kind cooperation of members is solicited. “Members cannot use the precincts of Parliament House for any demonstration, dharna, strike, fast, or for the purpose of performing any religious ceremony,” the bulletin said.
The Rajya Sabha secretariat has said that such a circular is normally issued ahead of every session of Parliament. The Secretariat also provided copies of the similar circular issued during the Congress-led UPA regime in 2013 and said such circulars have been issued for many years now.
When asked about opposition anger over such a circular, Birla requested all political parties to refrain from political allegations and counter allegations on any subject in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha without ascertaining facts. “It (such circulars to members) is a process. This process has been going on since 2009,” he said.
Jairam Ramesh, general secretary and chief whip of the party in Rajya Sabha, took to Twitter to attack the government. “Vishguru’s latest salvo-D(h)arna Mana Hai!,” he tweeted, sharing a copy of the circular issued on July 14. Another opposition leader, Manoj Jha of the RJD, shared the circular and sought the immediate intervention of the Rajya Sabha Chairman and the Lok Sabha Speaker. “Bringing a Parliamentary Bulletin to say that we cannot hold a dharna inside Parliament. It is an attempt to take parliamentary democracy to the grave. We demand that the Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman should intervene immediately,” he said in a tweet.
Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi, while sharing the circular on Twitter, asked, “Will they come for Parliamentary Questions next? PS: Hope this isn’t an unparliamentary question to ask.” Opposition members have in the past demonstrated inside the Parliament complex and have also staged protests near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue there.
The circular on dharnas comes amid opposition outrage over another bulletin listing certain words as “unparliamentary”, which was issued by the Lok Sabha secretariat.