Chopper crash: Opposition's logjam broken in Parliament, Rajya Sabha functions smoothly for first time in Winter Session
Dec 09, 2021
NEW DELHI: Expressing condolence to Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 other defence personnel who lost their lives in an IAF helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu, the Opposition parties on Thursday shunned their protest for the day both outside of Rajya Sabha and inside the House.
It was the first time since November 29, when the Winter Session of Parliament kicked start, the Opposition parties completely stopped their protest inside and outside of Rajya Sabha over the suspension of 12 MPs.
It began with the announcement of Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge from the protest site near Mahatma Gandhi statue inside the Parliament premises where these 12 suspended MPs have been protesting since they were suspended from Rajya Sabha proceedings by the Chair.
"We (Opposition parties) have decided unanimously to suspend the protest of our 12 MPs near Mahatma Gandhi statue despite the fact that their suspension is unlawful. We have suspended the protest for today only to express our condolence to Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 other defence personnel who lost their lives in a tragic helicopter crash on Wednesday," Kharge announced.
"There is no question of Opposition or government, we have been expressing our condolence for the defence personnel who fight for the country. We will also participate in House proceedings," he added.
Despite the rejection of LoP's demand to allow all MPs to express their condolences after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's statement on the tragic incident, the Opposition participated in House proceedings by showing a little bit of anguish for the Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh.
The Deputy Chairman did not accept LoP's demand, saying "the House on behalf of every member has expressed condolence and it cannot be allowed as there is no such tradition in Rajya Sabha to express tribute by every member." He then allowed Zero Hour and subsequently Question Hour.
The Opposition party leaders quietly participated in the proceedings of the House, unlike their act in the previous 11 days when they kept on protesting against the government to revoke the suspension of 12 MPs from Rajya Sabha, who were suspended on day one of the Winter Session on the charge of showing unparliamentary behaviour in the Monsoon session of the House.
The entire Opposition, excluding TDP and YSRCP, on Wednesday had also boycotted the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha over suspension of 12 MPs, who sit near Mahatma Gandhi statue every day during the proceeding of the House and protest.
In a move that angered the Opposition and set the stage for acrimonious exchanges, a dozen members of Opposition parties in Rajya Sabha were suspended from the Winter Session on the very first day on Monday following a motion brought in by the government.
The members were suspended for alleged unruly conduct towards the end of the Monsoon Session in August when marshals were called after Opposition members stormed the Well of the House during the passage of the General Insurance Business (Nationalization) Amendment Bill, 2021.
The suspended members comprise six from the Congress, two each from Trinamool Congress and Shiv Sena, and one each from CPI and CPM: Phulo Devi Netam, Chhaya Verma, Ripun Bora, Rajamani Patel, Syed Nasir Hussain and Akhilesh Prasad Singh of Congress; Dola Sen, Shanta Chhetri of Trinamool Congress; Priyanka Chaturvedi, Anil Desai of Shiv Sena; Elamaram Kareem of CPM; and, Binoy Viswam of CPI.
The Opposition's move to suspend their protest came a day after CDS Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 other defence personnel lost their lives after the Indian Air Force Mi-17V5 helicopter, in which they were travelling, crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu's Nilgiri district on Wednesday afternoon.
General Rawat was on a scheduled visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington to interact with the Student Officers. The Air Force Mi-17V5 helicopter, in which the CDS and others were travelling, took off from Sulur Air Base at 11:48 am on Wednesday and was expected to land at Wellington by 12:15 pm.
Air Traffic Control at Sulur Air Base lost contact with the helicopter at approximately 12:08 pm. Subsequently, a few locals spotted a fire in the forest near Coonoor and rushed to the spot where they observed the wreckage of a military helicopter engulfed in flames.
Latest reports have confirmed that out of the total 14 persons on board the ill-fated helicopter, 13 have succumbed to their injuries.
The dead include the spouse of the CDS, his wife Madhulika Rawat, his Defence Adviser Brig Lakhbinder Singh Lidder, Staff Officer Lt Col Harjinder Singh and nine other Armed Forces personnel including the Air Force helicopter crew.
Others occupants who lost their lives are Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan, Squadron Leader Kuldeep Singh, Junior Warrant Officer Rana Pratap Das, Junior Warrant Officer Arakkal Pradeep, Havildar Satpal Rai, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitendra Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar and Lance Naik B. Sai Teja.
Group Captain Varun Singh, the lone survivor of the crash, is on life support in the Military Hospital at Wellington and all efforts are being made to save his life.