Parliament adjourned over Manipur violence; Oppn demands PM’s statement

New Delhi: The Manipur violence rocked proceedings in both Houses of Parliament on the first day of the Monsoon session on Thursday, with the opposition demanding a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a discussion on the situation in the northeastern state.

Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha failed to transact any business as opposition members created uproar over the situation in Manipur despite the government’s assurance that it was ready to discuss the issue in both Houses.

The session started a day after a video of two women being paraded naked by a mob on May 4 in a Manipur village went viral, triggering a nationwide outrage.

With the opposition MPs shouting slogans such as “Manipur Manipur” and “Manipur is burning”, Parliament witnessed frequent adjournments before finally adjourning for the day.

Several opposition party leaders met Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge in the morning in his chamber and demanded a statement from the Prime Minister in both houses and a discussion on the Manipur situation which has seen ethnic violence since May 3.

In the morning ahead of the session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the incident of two women being paraded naked in Manipur has shamed 140 crore Indians and asserted that the law will act with its full might and no guilty will be spared.

“Today, when I am standing by this temple of democracy my heart is full of pain and anger,” he told reporters at the Parliament complex, amid his criticism by opposition parties for not speaking on the ethnic violence in the BJP-ruled state.

“I want to assure the countrymen that no guilty will be spared. The law will act with its full might and firmness… What has happened to these daughters of Manipur can never be forgiven,” he said, adding that the incident has insulted the entire country and 140 crore countrymen are feeling ashamed.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said the government has already made it clear that it was open to a discussion on Manipur in both Houses of Parliament. He said that Deputy leader in Lok Sabha Rajnath Singh has also given a similar assurance.

Joshi said that Home Minister Amit Shah would make a detailed reply once the discussion takes place, the time of which will be decided by the Speaker but opposition members remained dissatisfied and wanted a statement from the Prime Minister.

As opposition members continued raising slogans, Kirit Solanki, who was chairing proceedings, adjourned Lok Sabha for the day.

The proceedings of the Upper House were also adjourned for the day within minutes of the house meeting at 2 PM after initial adjournments.

Leader of Opposition Kharge said he has been demanding a discussion on the Manipur issue since morning but has not been allowed to despite giving notice in advance.

“I have made my full efforts to attract your attention and given notice but unfortunately, I am not allowed to raise this (rule) 267. You know Manipur is burning, women are raped and paraded naked… and Prime Minister is keeping quiet. He is giving a statement outside” he said.

Kharge also shared on Twitter his speech in RS, where he objected to Modi making a statement outside Parliament and was also heard saying that the “Prime Minister has insulted Parliament”.

“Manipur is burning. Women are raped, paraded naked and horrific violence is taking place. But the Prime Minister has kept quiet for so long. Today, after so much outrage, he gave a statement outside the Parliament.

“We want a detailed discussion on Manipur and Prime Minister Modi should make an elaborate statement on the same in the House. We also demand the immediate resignation of the Manipur Chief Minister and imposition of President’s Rule,” Kharge said on Twitter.

According to Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, former party chief Sonia Gandhi also urged Prime Minister Modi to discuss the Manipur situation in the House.  Gandhi made the demand during her brief conversation with the Prime Minister in the Lok Sabha when Modi took a round to greet various leaders. It is customary for leaders to greet each other on the first day of the Parliament session.

Congress’ chief whip in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh said,”so the first day of the Monsoon session of Parliament was washed out. This was because the Modi government did not agree to INDIA’s demand for an immediate discussion on the post-May 3rd situation in Manipur following a statement by the PM inside Parliament.” The Prime Minister deemed it more appropriate to give a ‘Desh ke Naam Sandesh’ in the media outside Parliament, he said and added “this Sandesh itself was completely silent on how and why a humanitarian tragedy was allowed by the so-called double engine sarkar which has all-but-destroyed the delicate social fabric of Manipur.” In the post-lunch session in Rajya Sabha, Dhankhar asked opposition members to maintain order in the house as slogan shouting intensified with some shouting “Manipur”, “Manipur”, forcing him to adjourn the house for the day.

As opposition members started sloganeering, Union Minister of Information & Broadcasting Anurag Thakur moved to introduce the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2023 to further amend the Cinematograph Act, 1952 after moving to withdraw the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019 that was passed by a voice vote amid the din.

Earlier in the day when the House met at noon, Dhankhar accepted eight notices by members for a short-duration discussion on Manipur under rule 176.

Leader of the House Piyush Goyal said the government has no objections and was ready for a discussion.

When the chairman allowed the notices for a short-duration discussion on Manipur, Kharge raised objections and said all the business of the House be suspended first.

“How the Leader of the House suddenly gets up and says we are ready for a discussion. We have given notices under Rule 267 for suspending all business and taking up the issue. Let the Prime Minister give a statement and we will discuss it,” he told the chairman.

Rule 267 of Rajya Sabha pertains to the suspension of a day’s business for taking up an issue, while Rule 176 says members may give notice in writing for a discussion on matters of urgent public importance.

Derek O’Brien (TMC) said the discussion on the Manipur situation should be taken up under Rule 267 and that the Prime Minister must break his silence on Manipur in the House.

Several opposition members, including Kharge, have given notices under Rule 267 while demanding a discussion on Manipur violence.