Loud anti-government slogans and an uproar over the death of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula disrupted the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha Wednesday — the second day of the long budget session of Indian parliament.
The upper house was adjourned five times after members assembled for the day at 11 a.m. After earlier adjournments in the morning, Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the house till 2 p.m. when members refused to let the house function and wanted the government to discuss Vemula’s alleged suicide on January 17.
Bahujan Samaj Party members blamed the central government for the scholar’s suicide in Hyderabad University. They gathered at the chairman’s podium, demanding the government debate the issue first and suspend the Question Hour.
Ansari made a passionate appeal to slogan shouting members, requesting them that they should let the Question Hour proceed and raise the issue later in the day.
He said that the Question Hour is a privilege of individual members who have asked questions to the government. “The questions have been listed and they have to be answered,” he said.
The government as well as the chair pointed out that a debate on the Vemula death is listed for later in the day.
The protesting members didn’t relent and continued with their slogan shouting, seeking justice for the family members of the dead student. They alleged that the government was anti-Dalit.
BSP leader Mayawati insisted that the government respond first over the issue. “This is not the first time a Dalit student committed suicide,” the BSP chief said.
“Rohith Vemula was Ambedkar supporter. RSS did not like this, he was exploited,” Mayawati said.
Earlier in the morning, BSP members trooped near the chairman’s podium raising slogans, following which the house was first adjourned for 10 minutes and then till noon.
The death of the Dalit student triggered widespread protests from opposition, who demanded action against central ministers Smriti Irani and Bandaru Dattatreya, who were blamed for forcing Vemula to take his life.