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UPSC exam row creates turmoil in Parliament

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The UPSC exam row generated heat in both Houses of Parliament with a member tearing a paper and throwing it towards the Speaker in Lok Sabha and almost the entire opposition staging a walkout in the Upper House as Government refused to set a time-line for resolving the issue.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Prakash Javadekar also came under sharp attack in Rajya Sabha from the Opposition which demanded an apology from him after he allegedly “instigated” members of the treasury benches to protest when the issue was raised.

Opposition members created uproar over the issue in both Houses leading to adjournment of Rajya Sabha thrice before lunch.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said government has taken the ongoing agitation by UPSC aspirants on the issue very seriously and is studying all aspects.

“Government has taken the issue very seriously and is considering every aspect. The report has been given by the Committee on the issue only a day ago. The report is being studied. Government wants this to be resolved as soon as possible,” Mr. Singh told the Rajya Sabha.

This, however, did not satisfy the agitating members who sought a clear time-frame to be set to resolve the issue and staged a walkout.

In the Lok Sabha, an agitated RJD member Rajesh Ranjan stormed the Well waving a newspaper while seeking a statement on the UPSC exam row and later tore the newspaper and threw it in the Well, with some landing on the Speaker’s table.

Later, during his Zero Hour mention, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan chided at him saying his behaviour in the House was not proper, forcing him to apologise, not once but twice.

In the Rajya Sabha when members pointed out that the seven-day time-frame set by the government to come out with a statement on the issue in the House had expired, Minister of State for Personnel Jitender Singh said, “Government has received the report today. It is a sensitive issue. There are different views on it. Give me time to study it.”

Admitting that the time sought by the Government has expired, the Minister pointed out that there were holidays in between and Government got only 4-5 days to look into it.

Dissatisfied with the reply of the two Ministers, the entire opposition except AIADMK staged a walkout in Rajya Sabha. SP was the first to stage a walkout, followed by BSP, Congress, TMC and the Left parties.

Opposition members were particularly agitated over the treatment meted out to the protesting students in Delhi at the hands of the police and attacked the government for lodging cases and use of force against them.

As there was no assurance from the government about the time-frame by when the issue will be resolved, the Opposition members insisted that the Chair should direct it to come out with a reasonable proposal by when it will be resolved.

Raising the issue, Pramod Tiwari (Cong) said Government had given an assurance to resolve the issue within a week but has not kept its word.

Amid sharp exchanges between the opposition and treasury benches, the opposition members took strong exception to Mr. Javadekar gesturing the ruling party members to stand and retort at the opposition attack.

“If Parliamentary Affairs Minister himself provokes his party members to stand up and do this. The conduct of the Minister is not acceptable. He should either apologise or the Chair should turn him out,” Naresh Agrawal (SP) said.

Quoting rules, he said the Chair can ask members including Ministers who obstruct the House to go out.

Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said the rule applies to both opposition and ruling party members as they are equal before the Chair.

Members from SP, Congress, JD(U) and CPI(M) also protested at Mr. Javadekar’s behaviour with some even storming the aisle.

Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said it is the responsibility of treasury benches to run the House and the Minister has committed a mistake and should express regret.

Vijay Goel (BJP) said responsibility of maintaining the dignity of the House was with both opposition and treasury benches.

Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) demanded withdrawal of cases against the agitating students and demanded urgent resolution of the matter.

D Raja (CPI) said “the minister should clearly say what is the time frame” by which the issue will be resolved as UPSC being an autonomous body has made it clear that it will not postpone the exams.

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