Winter session of Indian parliament

Opposition lawmakers protest detention of leaders

The winter session of Indian parliament was off to a stormy note with protests by the Congress and other opposition lawmakers over a range of issues including the detention of mainstream parties' politicians in Jammu and Kashmir. Within minutes of commencement of the Question Hour, around 30 members of the Congress rushed to the well, shouting slogans and demanding that the government stop attacking the opposition as well as foisting false cases.

The members, along with those from the National Conference of Jammu and Kashmir, also raised the issue of detention of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. The issue was also raised by Revolutionary Socialist Party leader N K Premachandran when he was given a chance to ask a supplementary question related to the Finance Ministry.

Members of the Shiv Sena, the oldest estranged Hindutva ally of the BJP, also raised slogans and demanded relief for farmers. Later, they walked out of the House. In the wake of differences over formation of government with the BJP in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena parted ways with the former and a Sena lawmaker also resigned as a minister from Prime Minister Narendra Modi cabinet.

Speaker Om Birla told agitating lawmakers that they would be given an opportunity to raise issues within rules after the Question Hour. "I am ready to discuss all issues. Please go to your seats... This House is not for sloganeering but for debates and discussions," Birla said. The ruckus notwithstanding, seven questions and related supplementaries were taken up during the Question Hour.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi sought to pacify protesting members, saying the government was ready for any discussion. "Let the Speaker decide and (there can be) discussion under rules," Joshi said and stressed that the Question Hour is the right of every member amid vociferous protests.