New Delhi: Parliament was stalled for the second consecutive day due to ruckus by Congress-led opposition parties which were demanding a debate on demonetisation in Lok Sabha under a rule that entails voting and presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Rajya Sabha for resumption of discussion on the issue. No business could be transacted in either the Upper House or the Lower House due to the pandemonium.
In the Lok Sabha, Congress and some other opposition parties pressed for a discussion on demonetisation under a rule which entails voting, that too through an Adjournment motion which means suspension of all business. Several notices were given by various opposition leaders for discussion under the Adjournment Motion but Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected these, saying a debate could take place otherwise.
Ruckus started soon after the House met for the day, with leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge demanding that the issue of scrapping of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 denomination notes be discussed through an adjournment motion and not the rule being proposed by the government. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the government was willing to discuss the issue and there was no need to press for an adjournment motion.
As the din continued, the House was adjourned for nearly one hour till noon, minutes after it assembled. When the House assembled again for Zero Hour, the opposition again pressed for moving an adjournment motion. But the Speaker rejected all the notices. Both Kharge and TMC leader Sudip Bandopadhyay insisted that the debate be taken up through an adjournment motion.
The Parliamentary Affairs Minister once again urged the opposition to take up the debate under Rule 193 which does not entail voting and a formal motion.
Kumar said the opposition should not "run away" from a debate and maintained that it was up to the Chair to decide under which rule the discussion will take place. As part of their Zero Hour references, Meenakshi Lekhi and Gajendra Singh Chauhan (both BJP) raised the issue of remarks made by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad yesterday linking deaths due to demonetisation crisis to the killings in the Uri terror attack. The remarks were expunged last night itself.
The two BJP members slammed Azad for the statement and demanded that a resolution be passed against him and he should be asked to apologise in writing. As differences persisted and opposition continued to raise slogans like "Pradhan Mantri sadan mein aao" and "Vijay Mallya kahan gaya", the House was adjourned for the day. In the Rajya Sabha where debate took place on demonetisation for six-hours on Wednesday, the discussion could not be resumed even today as Congress and some other opposition parties insisted on presence of the Prime Minister.
The House also saw a clash between Congress and BJP members as the ruling side raked up Azad's controversial comments and demanded apology from Congress. Slogans and counter slogans in the Upper House forced its adjournment, first till 1130 hours, then till noon, then till 1233 hours, after that till 1430 hours and finally for the day. Soon after listed papers were laid on the table of the House, BJP members moved into aisles shouting slogans and demanding an apology from Azad for his remarks.
Congress members too rushed into the Well raising slogans demanding presence of the Prime Minister and an apology from him as well as the government for the hardship caused to the common man due to withdrawal of 86 per cent of the currency in circulation in the form of old 500 and 1000 rupee notes. AIADMK members were also in the Well raising slogans over the Cauvery water issue. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien asked all members to leave the Well and return to their seats, assuring them that he would hear their submissions.
Amid the din, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi alleged that Azad's statement had given a message to the country that Congress was sympathetic to terrorism and asked why it was so agitated when the demonetisation drive was only to hurt black money hoarders. Kurien persuaded AIADMK and Congress members to withdraw from the Well, telling them that he would give opportunity to their leaders to raise their respective issues.
But with BJP members continuing to stand in the aisles and raising slogans, Congress members too were back in the Well, shouting slogans. Kurien said treasury benches should not create problems for the Chair. "If you do this, what do I do? You should cooperate with me in running the House. Treasury benches should not disrupt," he said. But the din continued, forcing him to adjourn the proceedings till 1130 hours. There was no change in the scenario when the House reassembled as both BJP and Congress members again started raising slogans.
While Congress members trooped into the Well, several AIADMK members were seen standing along their seats. As the slogans and counter slogans continued, the Chair adjourned the House till noon. After repeated adjournments, when the House met again at 1430 hours, opposition members continued to create ruckus. Congress leader Anand Sharma accused the government of not wanting the House to run and for "destroying the poor" with his policies.
In the melee, the Deputy Chairman asked the MPs to introduce the Private Member's Bill amid continuous sloganeering by the opposition and treasury benches. Prior to this, he read out a decision by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on a private member's bill for special package to Andhra Pradesh after its reorganisation, moved in the last session Congress member KVP Ramachandra Rao.
The Bill was referred to the Speaker to ascertain whether it was a money bill and whether it can be introduced in the Upper House. However, Kurien's statement could not be heard in the din.
Independent MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar moved his Bill to declare any country as state sponsor of terrorism and withdraw economic and trade relations with such country and to create legal, economic and travel sanctions for citizens of that country. Following continuous uproarious scenes, Kurien adjourned the House till Monday.