New Delhi: On a day when the Opposition stalled both houses of Parliament over the coal scam, the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Rajiv Shukla, was caught on tape advising the Rajya Sabha Chair to adjourn the House.
The UPA Minister was caught on camera telling the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien, "There is going to be an uproar. Adjourn the session for the whole day."
However, defending his act in the Rajya Sabha, Shukla said there was nothing wrong in what he did.
He said, There is nothing wrong in what I did in Rajya Sabha. It is up to the Speaker or the Chairperson to listen to our advise or not."
The Rajya Sabha also appeared to defend Shukla, with sources in the Upper House of Parliament saying it was a normal practice by a Parliamentary Affairs Minister to advise the chairperson or the deputy chairperson on adjournment of the House.
Kurien, who was elected as the Deputy Chairman, had just occupied the Chair when members of entire Opposition started shouting slogans against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the government.
Amid the din, Shukla, who is Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, went to the chair and whispered in the ears of Kurien to adjourn the House.
The whisper, however, was caught on Kurien's mike and was amplified. The House was adjourned soon after for the day.
Significantly, minutes earlier, Kurien, while accepting felicitations on his induction, had said that he would try to accommodate views of all members in running the House. Criticising Shukla's action, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said it has "exposed Congress design" to disrupt Parliament and not allow it to function.
"Congress is engaging in double speak as on the one hand it is telling the Chair to adjourn the House and on the other hand they are blaming the BJP for causing disruptions.
"They have been badly exposed and they are not interested in running the House," Javadekar added.
Former Lok Sabha Secretary General Subhash Kashyap disapproved of Shukla's conduct saying "It is undignified for a member to walk upto the chair and advise...Members or Ministers should speak from their seat."
Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, however, said that Shukla might have given a suggestion which was not binding on the Chair.
(With Additional Inputs from PTI)