New Delhi: Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar asserted that he cannot direct Prime Minister Narendra Modi to appear in the House, as demanded by opposition leaders who sought a statement from the Prime Minister on the Manipur issue. The opposition leaders had requested a discussion on the ethnic violence in Manipur under Rule 267, leading to a walkout in protest when the Chairman did not accept their notices.
Rule 267 allows for the suspension of a listed business to discuss an issue suggested by a member. Despite receiving 58 notices under Rule 267 for a discussion on Manipur, the Chairman deemed them to be not in order. Leader of Opposition and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge cited eight points in his notice, urging the discussion under Rule 267 and the Prime Minister’s presence to address the situation.
Jagdeep Dhankhar firmly stated that he cannot issue a directive for the Prime Minister’s presence based on constitutional grounds and precedent. He clarified that the time allocated for the short-duration discussion on Manipur under Rule 176 was not limited to two-and-a-half hours, contrary to certain media impressions. The government had agreed to a discussion on the Manipur issue under Rule 176, scheduled for July 31, but it could not take place due to opposition protests.
The Chairman proceeded with the scheduled Zero Hour despite the walkout by opposition leaders. He remarked that they were walking out not just from the House but also from their constitutional obligation and duty towards the people. Dhankhar advised the opposition to seek counsel from legal luminaries to understand the constitutional constraints he faces in issuing such a directive.