NEW DELHI: High drama unfolded in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday afternoon when Trinamool Congress MP Shantanu Sen snatched papers from IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw just as the minister stood up to make a statement on the Pegasus snooping row, setting off a heated exchange of words with BJP benches.
Sen tore the papers and flung them at deputy chairman Harivansh. Vaishnaw could not complete his statement and the House had to be adjourned for the day. Immediately after, there was an animated exchange between Union minister Hardeep Puri and the TMC MP and marshals had to intervene to bring the situation under control. Just before this high drama, as soon as Vaishnaw rose to speak on the issue of the alleged phone tapping, opposition MPs rushed to the well of the House and raised “jasoosi band karo (stop spying)” slogans against the government.
The minister rubbished the charges and reports, saying, “When we look at this issue through the prism of logic, it clearly emerges that there is no substance behind this sensationalism.” Harivansh urged protesting MPs to desist from unparliamentary behaviour and return to their respective seats and let the minister complete his statement.
W e should not follow this unparliamentary behaviour. The report has been laid which you all wanted and which was an important issue for you all. You are getting an opportunity to ask your questions and get the answers. But you do not want a discussion on an issue. How is this democratic process?" Harivansh asked.
Earlier in the day, the House was adjourned twice after opposition MPs raised the Pegasus issue and I-T searches on offices of Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar. Targeting TMC, Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said the incident was “disgraceful”. “Wanton hooliganism of @AITCofficial that has claimed 100s of lives in West Bengal now displayed in Parliament against a gentleman minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. Disgraceful,” he tweeted. “Shameless behaviour encouraged by Mamata Banerjee who believes laws of the land don’t apply to her or her party,” Chandrasekhar added. BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi said the TMC and Congress were saying “they’ll do things to damage the country's reputation.