December 18, 2015
In conversation with… Sukhendu Sekhar Roy
Sukhendu Sekhar Roy is the Chief Whip of the party in the Rajya Sabha
Question: What was the complaint you raised about the way the House was being run?
SS Roy: On Wednesday morning, when the supplementary list of business was circulated on the increase in central excise on petrol and diesel products, the Leader of the Opposition said Anand Sharma would speak on his behalf and the Leader of the House said he should be allowed to respond. The deputy chairman sought out an assurance from the Congress. But when I did the same with Vivek Gupta, that wasn’t allowed. I am the chief whip of the party, I nominate as per party directions who says what. If Azad can nominate, so can I. It is inconsistent to allow one and not the other.
Question: What is your problem with the chair seeking an assurance?
SS Roy: The House is run on rules, not on assurances and counter-assurances. Such bargaining to run the House goes not only against the rules but also against propriety. Some parties cannot hold the House to ransom. It can be done behind the scenes, but not in the House.
Question: The deputy Chairman thought you were casting aspersions on the chair.
SS Roy: Not at all, I invited attention to the violence of rules. The chair has the discretion to suspend any rule but that is a discretionary power. Propriety demands that it should be used sparingly, not routinely. This House cannot be run on the whims and fancies of any individual or political party. The chair failed to appreciate it. Mine was only an statement of facts.
Question: When the House is said to be already held to ransom by those disrupting it, what is the problem if the chair tries to run the House?
SS Roy: It is a bad precedent. If somebody creates a ruckus, there is a laid-down procedure to deal with it. If that is not done, it is incumbent on members to draw the attention of the chair. This is not somebody’s drawing room.
Question: Are you suggesting the chair should start talking action against agitation numbers?
SS Roy: I cannot advise that the chair on what to do but as an ordinary member this is my expectation from the chair that the House be run on rules. I am disappointed.
This interview first appeared in The Indian Express Delhi Edition on 17 December, 2015