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Parliament adjourned as opposition unites against price rise
Tuesday, February 23, 2010 03:23:27 PM, IANS
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New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s appeal notwithstanding, an angry opposition Tuesday stalled parliament demanding a discussion on price rise under rules that entail voting but the government refused to yield.
The issue forced two adjournments each of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, the second ones for the day.
If the demand in the Lok Sabha was for a discussion under an adjournment motion, the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, where the issue was listed for a short duration discussion, wanted it to be held under rules 167 and 168.
While a discussion under an adjournment motion only requires voting, that under rules 167 and 168 requires both voting and the sense of the house to be recorded.
The government tried to sidestep the issue in the Lok Sabha, saying that a discussion should first be held on President Pratibha Patil’s address to a joint session of parliament Monday. It also sought to shift the onus for rising prices to the state governments, agitating the opposition even more.
In the Rajya Sabha, where the Left, the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Chairman Hamid Ansari and Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan repeatedly pointed out that a short duration discussion on rising prices had been agreed to. But this fell on deaf ears with the opposition demanding that the issue be discussed as a “substantial motion”.
With both houses of parliament adjourning for the day, an angry Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari accused the opposition of trying to score brownie points.
“In December, where was discussion in parliament on inflation, how many MPs were present?” he asked reporters later.
Manmohan Singh had Monday appealed to the opposition not to disrupt parliamentary proceedings, saying the government was ready to “discuss and debate all issues on the floor of the house”.
In the Lok Sabha, the issue of rising prices was raised by newly-installed Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj (BJP) soon after the house assembled.
“I am sorry but the people are suffering. We want discussion on top priority basis. All the businesses should be delayed. The price rise is the most important issue,” Swaraj said, adding: “Please accept my adjournment motion. We will allow the house to function but price rise should be discussed first.”
Other opposition members, too, joined in, shouting slogans against the government and forcing Speaker Meira Kumar to adjourn the house till noon.
When the house reassembled, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said the government was prepared for a detailed discussion, “but according to parliamentary convention, the motion of thanks for the president’s address should be discussed first”.
He said an adjournment motion could be accepted only on “emergency matters”.
With the entire opposition joining the protest, the minister could not complete his statement and the speaker adjourned the house for the day.
There was similar chaos in the Rajya Sabha.
Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley (BJP) raised the issue when the house assembled at 11 a.m., saying: “We have served two notices, one for suspending question hour and the other for a discussion on rising prices under rules 167 and 168.”
As the entire opposition raised slogans against the government, Jaitley said: “We want the broad sense of the house to be recorded. It is an issue that concerns the common people.”
Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) supported him.
“The ruling benches will appreciate why we are agitated. We had yesterday agreed to a short duration discussion but today feel that the issue should be discussed under a substantial motion.”
This prompted Chairman Ansari to remark that “there was consensus on discussion but not on the procedure”.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Prithviraj Chavan then attempted to make a statement but was shouted down as the opposition continued its protests, forcing Ansari to adjourn the house till noon.
With the protests continuing when Rajya Sabha reassembled, Deputy Chairman Rahman Khan adjourned the house for the day.
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