By Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  With the Opposition hitting the street over Wednesday’s Rajya Sabha ruckus, the government fielded a team of eight Union ministers on Thursday who alleged that the agitating MPs had attempted to strangulate a woman marshal in the upper House, while calling for stringent action against the erring members.

Union ministers Pralhad Joshi (Parliamentary Affairs), Piyush Goyal (Commerce and Textile), Anurag Thakur (Information and Broadcasting), Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (Minority Affairs), Bhupender Yadav (Environment and Labour), Arjun Ram Meghwal (MoS, Parliamentary Affairs), Dharmendra Pradhan (Education)  and V Muraleedharan (MoS, External Affairs) were pressed into service by the government.

“Marshals do not belong to any party. They are for the security of the House, Chair and members. But attempts were made to strangulate a woman marshal. The MPs stood on the table of the reporters. Some of them threw rule books at the Chair, which could have even hurt if they hit the presiding officer or the secretary general. This is unprecedented and unruly behaviour, which requires a thorough probe and stringent action,” said Goyal.

“A lady marshal was manhandled by opposition MPs. Opposition’s behaviour in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday was a new low for parliamentary democracy. Opposition’s approach of my way or highway is highly condemnable,” he added further.

Rejecting the opposition’s allegations that people were brought from outside the Parliament, Goyal, who is also leader of the house, said there were 30 marshals in the Rajya Sabha at the time of ruckus, 18 men and 12 women.

“No one from outside was brought in,” he said, adding he and the group of ministers met Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the House and made an earnest appeal that the strongest possible action should be taken against the opposition MPs for their deplorable behaviour and manhandling marshals.

Trouble in the upper House unfolded after the Insurance Amendment Bill was taken up for discussion and passage in the Rajya Sabha, with scores of marshals throwing a ring around the reporters’ table and the Chair. Joshi said they had called on Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and demanded a probe.

“The Opposition should apologise to the country for their actions in Rajya Sabha. We demand a special committee be constituted to look into all aspects of the unruly behaviour of the Opposition MPs. Actions which may deter a repeat in future should be taken against the erring MPs,” said Goyal.

The tumultuous Monsoon session of Parliament was curtailed by two days on Wednesday, after opposition MPs jostled with marshals in the well of the house when they were trying to move towards the chair and the treasury benches.

Echoing similar sentiments, Joshi said a strongest action is must against those who broke the rules.

It was predecided by the Congress and its friendly allies that Parliament should not be allowed to function in the monsoon session, Joshi alleged.

Talking about ruckus in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, he said, “Yesterday morning, we were literally threatened that if you dared to pass more bills after passage of the OBC bill there will be more damage.

” Referring to an incident when an opposition leader was seen above a table inside the upper house, Thakur said the secretary general’s table in Rajya Sabha is not meant for dancing and protesting.

He alleged that “anarchy from streets to Parliament” was the Opposition’s only agenda during the monsoon session.

He demanded that the Opposition must apologise to the nation for its disruptive behaviour during the monsoon session.

Earlier in the day, a group of union ministers, including Joshi, Goyal and Naqvi, called on Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu at his official residence here.

Separately, a group of opposition leaders also met Naidu and complained against the alleged heckling of MPs including some women.

The ministers, on the other hand, are believed to have complained against the alleged unruly behaviour of some opposition members in the House on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Naidu broke down over the ruckus in the House and equated the act of some opposition MPs to “sacrilege in the temple of democracy”.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla was also likely to meet Vice President Naidu in the evening.

Leaders of several opposition parties on Thursday marched in protest against the government on several issues, including Pegasus, farm laws, and alleged manhandling of their MPs in Rajya Sabha, with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi saying the voice of people was crushed in Parliament and democracy was “murdered”.

Top leaders of several opposition parties met in the chamber of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and then walked in protest from Parliament House to Vijay Chowk.

Those who attended the meeting included Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Kharge, Sanjay Raut, Tiruchi Siva, Manoj Jha and other opposition leaders.

(With PTI Inputs)