The Rajya Sabha was disrupted on Friday after opposition members shouted slogans and compared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Hitler, protesting the deployment of soldiers at toll plazas in West Bengal.
But the government played down the issue of the army deployment, saying it was a routine exercise done every year and the state government was informed in advance.
The opposition members were, however, not impressed with the government’s response and continued protesting, forcing Chairman Hamid Ansari to adjourn the house till 2.30 p.m.
They first raised the issue during Zero Hour soon after the house met for the day. But as soon as the Chair gave a call for Question Hour at 12 noon, the opposition members started shouting slogans.
“Modi teri Hitlershahi, nahi chalegi, nahi chalegi (Modi, you can’t govern like Hitler)”, they thundered and trooped to the Chairman’s podium.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad raised the army deployment issue, alleging that the state government had no prior information about it.
“In West Bengal, the army has taken over toll plazas at 19 places. The state Chief Secretary, state administration or the state Director General of Police (DGP) were not given any information about this. We are unable to understand what is this,” Azad said.
“The army is sometimes deployed in emergency situations, but there is no emergency in Bengal. The law and order is alright. This is not a matter of concern for one state government or one party, but for the entire country.”
Azad sought a clarification from the government, and also a statement from Modi.
Trinamool Congress member Sukhendu Sekhar Roy and BSP chief Mayawati also joined Azad.
Roy said it was a central government attempt to instil fear. Mayawati dubbed the move an “attack on the federal structure” of the nation.
The government said the opposition was reading too much into a “routine exercise”.
“This was a routine annual data collection exercise by the Eastern Command of the army. Earlier, it was planned for November 27-28 but was rescheduled to November 30 and December 2 on a specific request by Kolkata Police due to Bharat Bandh,” Minister of State Subhash Bahmre said in a statement.
He said the exercise was meant to identify the number of vehicles to be used during a national emergency.
However, the opposition members accused the government of “misleading” the house on the issue.