Contrary to the cheers during his post-match orations, Sachin Tendulkar faced a disrupting clamour as he stood up to deliver his maiden speech in Rajya Sabha today. His speech centred on sports was interrupted by Congress MPs demanding an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his remark on his predecessor Manmohan Singh.
Tendulkar, who was nominated for the upper house in 2012, had moved a Short Discussion Motion on right to play and future of sports in India. He was expected to cover issues like Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) for international medal winners and including sports in school curriculum.
Tendulkar was given a chance to speak when the House met at 2:00pm after an earlier adjournment. As soon as the Bharat Ratna-awardee stood up to speak, Congress MPs gathered in front of Chairman's seat and started shouting slogans asking PM Modi to apologise for his accusations on Singh during the Gujarat election campaign. Tendulkar stood waiting for around 10 minutes, smiling, waiting for the sloganeering MPs to calm down.
Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu tried to calm down the protesting members, saying that their shouting is not going on record and they should show some respect for the legendary cricketer while he is trying to speak. He urged to members to listen what Tendulkar had to say on sports in his maiden speech at Rajya Sabha.
A livid Naidu ended up adjourning the proceedings till 11:00 am tomorrow after the shouting continued, ending Sachin's turn to speak. Since last week, Congress has been seeking an apology from PM Modi over his remarks that former PM Manmohan Singh is receving help from Pakistan forces to win Gujarat polls.
Rajya Sabha MPJaya Bachchan went on to slam the protesting MPs, saying it was 'matter of shame' that Tendulkar was denied an opportunity to raise his issues in the Rajya Sabha. She said while talking to ANI outside the Parliament, "He (Tendulkar) has earned name for India at the world stage, it is a matter of shame that he was not allowed to speak even when everyone knew it was on today's agenda. Are only politicians allowed to speak?"
Earlier in the day, Naidu had to adjourn the proceedings till 2:00 pm after Congress members shouted slogans, drowning the voices of other members and forcing Naidu to adjourn the proceedings. The Opposition members were agitated over the acquittal of accused in the 2G spectrum scam case.
Leader of the Opposition and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad sought an explanation from PM Modi for the "false propaganda" on the 2G scam to come to power in 2014.
However, Naidu turned Azad's submission citing reasons that he had not given any prior notice. He also cited a May 22, 1990 ruling of then Rajya Sabha Chairman Shankar Dayal Sharma that the Chair's ruling on not allowing suspension of a Question Hour or allowing a discussion was final. This, however, was not enough to calm Congress members who rushed to the Well shouting anti-Modi and anti-BJP slogans. When some slogan-shouting Congress members moved in front of the ruling benches, Naidu castigated them for moving from the opposition side to the treasury side of the Well.
At the persuasion of Azad, the protestors then left the Well and returned to their seats but kept raising slogans, drowning the voices of members whom the Chair had called to raise Zero Hour issues. This followed Naidu chiding them for the unruly behaviour, saying "I will have to think about invoking rules. Don't force me to do that."
When deputy leader of the Congress Anand Sharma tried to raise a point, Naidu snapped back at him saying it was not good for a deputy leader of the party to defy the Chair.
Normally, the Chair in case of disruptions in the first hour of the sitting, adjourns proceedings till noon. But when Naidu adjourned the proceedings till 2 pm, members were surprised. Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was also seen asking officials if the proceedings have indeed been adjourned till 2:00 pm.
Thursday, being the Question day for the Prime Minister's Office, PM Modi was expected to be present during Question Hour slated at noon.
(With PTI inputs)