Bric a Brac

His Speaker’s Voice

Impactful decisions in Parliament
Enter Vol.14 ISSUE 4-6 JULY-SEPT 2020

On April 17, 1999, there was the famous, or in-famous, Vote of Confidence, which the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government lost by a single vote. GMC Balayogi, an advocate from Andhra Pradesh, was the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. He had to decide whether Giridhar Gamang, who had already taken the oath to become Odisha’s Chief Minister two months earlier, could be allowed to vote as an MP? Balayogi allowed it, and Gamang pressed the “No” button. It proved to be the end of the Vajpayee government. The second incident concerned Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice-President of India, Hamid Ansari. There was midnight drama in the Upper House on December 29, 2011 during the Lokpal Bill debate. Starting at 11 a.m., the debate prolonged and continued past 11.30 p.m. Ansari did not inform the    house that he would not carry on beyond 12 in the night. Instead, he declared the House sine die 15 minutes before midnight, though he had power to extend the time of the ongoing session. The third incident took place on September 20, 2020, when the Rajya Sabha passed three controversial agriculture acts through voice vote, amidst huge uproar. Harivansh Narayan Singh, Vice-Chairman of Rajya Sabha, in charge of the proceedings clarified, “You will appreciate, that as per rules and practice, in order to have a division, two things are essential. Firstly, there should be a demand for division and equally important that there should be order in the House.” What he implied was that the voice vote was legitimate as there was no opposition to the acts. But as Indians watched the events unfold, some loose tongues began to wag. Why the Rajya Sabha vice-head did so led to much speculation and the same can’t be mentioned here. However, this much can be said—elected representatives and top political managers have to be like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion. g

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