Ruckus in Rajya Sabha; Trinamool MP tears Ashwani Vaishnaw’s paper

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Information technology minister Ashwani Vaishnaw was unable to complete his statement on the Pegasus snooping row in the Rajya Sabha after a Trinamool member snatched one of the papers containing the statement and tore it up. The House was adjourned thrice without conducting business as opposition MPs protested over the farm bills too.

It was adjourned for the first time minutes after it met at 11 am, as Congress and SAD MPs raised slogans to protest against the three farm laws, while Trinamool MPs trooped into the well of the House over reports of phone tapping using Pegasus spyware manufactured by a private Israeli company and licensed only to vetted government agencies. YSRCP members were also in the well to demand special status for Andhra Pradesh.

When the House met again at noon, the protests continued, leading to the second adjournment till 2 pm. When proceedings resumed, deputy chairperson Harivansh asked Vaishnaw to make a statement on Pegasus. Trinamool MPs, already in the well protesting over the same issue, raised their pitch as Vaishnaw began to read his statement. The minister had made a similar statement in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

The situation turned ugly when Trinamool member Shantanu Sen snatched a paper from Vaishnaw and tore it. Urban development minister Hardeep Puri was seen having a heated exchange with Sen. Vaishnaw stopped reading his statement after a few lines and laid the statement on the table of the House. Harivansh remarked that instead of posing questions to the minister, the opposition was creating a din. For the record, the government has refused to answer the opposition query on whether it had acquired the Pegasus spyware.

After Harivansh adjourned the House for the day, the situation worsened with BJP and Trinamool MPs shouting at each other. House marshals had to intervene to prevent the situation from getting out of hand.

BJP is likely to demand Sen’s suspension from the House and will move a privilege motion against Trinamool MPs involved in the incident. Soon after the episode, leader of the House Piyush Goyal, parliamentary affairs ministers Pralhad Joshi and V Muraleedharan, education minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Vaishnaw held a meeting.

Rajya Sabha had functioned normally on Tuesday when it held a short duration discussion on Covid-19, vaccination drive and the possible challenges from a third wave.

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