The government's move to extend Rajya Sabha proceedings for a day met with protests from Opposition parties including the Congress which termed it as "unilateral" and raised slogans in Parliament complex.
The government on Monday asked the Rajya Sabha chairman to extend the winter session by a day till January 9 to enable government business, including passage of the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill 2019 that seeks to introduce provisions for reservation for economically weaker sections. Chairman Naidu approved the extension by a day.
Sources said members raised objections inside the House over the manner the government "unilaterally" took the decision without taking political parties into confidence.
Leaders of all parties in Rajya Sabha moved near Mahatma Gandhi's statue and raised slogans against the government.
"This is done unilaterally. They should have taken political parties into confidence and the chairman should have taken a sense of the house before taking the decision," said an opposition leader.
Opposition leaders expressed reservation over the way the government sought extension of the session by a day at the last minute. They told the chairman that since the session was scheduled till January 8, they had to leave for respective states on account of prior commitments.
They also pointed out that there was "no conducive atmosphere" for transaction of any legislative business, in view of the stalemate in the upper house over various issues. The Rajya Sabha has not transacted any significant business ever since the winter session that started on December 11.
Some opposition leaders admitted that the RS chairman is empowered to decide on the schedule of the session and they had issues only with the government.
"Constitutional crisis? In Rajya Sabha there has been NO announcement from The Chair that the House is being extended by a day. Even the RS website says that House not in session'. And yet Vice Chairman announced House is adjourned till 11am Jan 9' #Parliament #Bizarre," he tweeted.
Some opposition leaders also said that extension of the session is to be discussed in the Business Advisory Committee (BAC), while others asserted that the BAC is only meant for allocation of time for legislative proposals of the government and Chairman has all the powers to decide on extension.
Rule 12 of the Rajya Sabha clearly states that, "the Council shall sit on such days as the Chairman, having regard to the state of business of the Council, may from time to time direct."
It also states, "A sitting of the Council shall conclude at such hour as the Chairman may direct."
During discussions with opposition leaders, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel is learnt to have pointed out to the precedents in 2011 and 2013 when the Session of Rajya Sabha was extended similarly towards the fag end.
He also underlined that it was the prerogative of the government to decide on the schedule of the Session and as per the rules Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is empowered to decide on the request of the government on the extension of the Session.
Naidu assured the opposition leaders that he would consult the Leader of the House Jaitley in the matter, as Jaitley could not attend the morning meetings of the Chairman with the opposition leaders on account of a hospital visit.
Jaitley later recalled that the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) while deciding on the session schedule clearly stipulates that the dates so proposed are subject to the exigencies of completion of the government's legislative business.
Jaitley further said that its not fair for the opposition to dictate terms with regard to the schedule of the session on the ground of prior commitments. He expressed concern over important legislative business including three ordinance replacement bills which are time bound still to be taken up in the Upper House.
He also pointed out that there was broad consensus on the proposed 10 per cent reservation for the economically poor among the upper castes and there was no reason for the opposition to stall the passage of a Bill in this regard on "flimsy grounds".
The reservation bill needs to be taken up in Rajya Sabha after its passage in Lok Sabha and the opposition cannot obstruct this process, he told the opposition leaders, the sources said.
Incidently, the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday was adjourned six times as Chairman and Deputy Chairman made repeated efforts to have some business transacted during the proceedings. This is a record for the last four sessions of the Upper House since the election of Naidu as Chairman.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)