Issuing whips, arranging ambulances: Opposition preps for fight on Delhi services bill in Rajya Sabha

The I.N.D.I.A bloc has decided that they want a discussion on the Delhi ordinance and control of services and that they plan to use all the time allotted for discussion

Representative Image; Parliament of India (photo: Getty Images)
Representative Image; Parliament of India (photo: Getty Images)


From issuing whips to arranging ambulances for their ailing leaders, opposition parties from the newly-formed INDIA bloc are making all-out efforts to ensure that they get 100 per cent attendance of their MPs in the Rajya Sabha to give the BJP a tough fight on the Delhi services bill next week.

Sources said former prime minister Manmohan Singh (90), who is ill, is likely to come to the House in a wheelchair, while former Jharkhand chief minister Shibu Soren (79), who is also unwell and has largely withdrawn from public life, has already arrived in the national Capital in anticipation of the voting on the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023. Soren is likely to be brought to the House just before the voting.

Another ailing MP, JD(U)'s Bashistha Narain Singh (75) is likely to arrive in Parliament in an ambulance, sources said.

The Bill seeks to replace an ordinance negating a Supreme Court order giving power of transfer and posting to the Delhi government and has been listed for introduction in Parliament next week.

On Friday, TMC Rajya Sabha MP and leader of the party in the House, Derek O'Brien and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh spoke to Leader of the House Piyush Goyal, requesting him to ensure that the government inform members well in advance before bringing the Delhi services bill to replace the ordinance.

They pointed out that the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill was brought in 2019 without giving the opposition parties time to formulate their stand on it. They also informed him that there were many senior leaders who would come to the House only to vote.

Among various parties, the Congress and the Janata Dal (United) have already issued whips to their respective members to be present in the House.

O'Brien and some other opposition leaders have already written to the Rajya Sabha chairman that the ordinance was a serious issue and requested him to let them know in advance about the Bill. They also urged him to ensure that it is not brought in a supplementary list of business.

"If this Bill springs up in the List of Business, there will be no way to ensure that there is enough opportunity for thorough debate and scrutiny of this important legislation.

"Also, it will not allow all parties to ensure that ALL members (including those with serious medical conditions restricted to a stretcher or wheelchair and have to be transported by ambulance from hospital or residence) are present in Rajya Sabha on that day. An informal one-day notice will be appreciated so that we can bring these members to the chamber for voting," O'Brien said in his letter.

The INDIA bloc, sources said, has decided that they want a discussion on the Delhi services bill and they plan to use all the time allotted for discussion.

"Win, lose or draw, we are going for a vote. Let parties stand up and show us whether they are with the Constitution or doing deals with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)," O'Brien said on being asked about the numbers in Rajya Sabha. Around 109 MPs, comprising of those from the 26-member Opposition bloc INDIA and some independents like Kapil Sibal, are expected to vote against the Bill, a senior leader said. However, this will still be short of the halfway mark of 120 if all 238 existing members vote that day. The full strength of the House is 243, but there are some vacant seats.

Of the 26 parties from the opposition grouping, at least 18 have presence in Rajya Sabha and collectively they have 101 MPs. Besides this bloc, BRS (seven MPs) is also likely to vote against the Bill, while the YSR Congress (nine MPs) may back the Bill.

The ruling NDA has 100 MPs in the Upper House, while it will bank on nominated members and independents, as well as some other non-alligned parties, as parties like the BJD (nine MPs) have voted with them in the past on various issues.

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