New Delhi: Lok Sabha witnessed a virtual washout for the fifth consecutive day on Wednesday as government and opposition parties continued to clash over the demonetisation issue and the rule under which a debate should take place on it, with the former ruling out any provision of voting in the discussion.
Opposition members, including those from Congress, TMC, RJD, CPI(M) and BJD, besides SAD and Shiv Sena, both part of the ruling NDA, expressed their views in the House when it assembled at noon after one adjournment, with the Sena changing its stance on demonetisation and sparing the government of embarrassment by praising the move and supporting its stand that the debate will be held under Rule 193, which does not entail voting.
Sena had been critical of the demonetisation move and its members even joined a TMC-led protest march to the President last week but softened their stand after a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.
The House saw continued protests by Opposition members soon after it assembled for the day, with Congress and TMC MPs trooping into the Well, forcing its adjournment first till noon and later for the day.
Speaking soon after the House was reconvened at noon, Mallikarjun Kharge (Cong) said they were ready for a discussion under Rule 56, which entails voting. "But a message has gone out that the opposition is not
"But a message has gone out that the opposition is not ready for discussion. People are distressed, people are in pain and we want to discuss their problems. What we want is that the Prime Minister should be present here. You (Speaker) should allow us the adjournment motion," he said.
Modi was present in the House briefly during Question Hour, during which only one question could be taken up amid the opposition's din which led to the first adjournment.
Taking a dig at the Prime Minister, Kharge said it is being told outside Parliament that a few people are supporting black money. "But the fact is that ruling party is supporting black money and not allowing the discussion to take place in the House."
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the government is willing to discuss the issue any time and it may not be a short duration debate but could "go on for 1-2-3 days."
"If the opposition offers any constructive suggestion, we will heed to it, implement it. We have launched a campaign against black money, fake currency and corruption and people of India are supporting Modi," Kumar said.
Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) and Jithender Reddy (TRS), two parties which have not joined the Congress-led protests, favoured a quick resolution to the impasse so that Parliament can resume its proceedings and take up matters of public interests. BJD has demanded a discussion under Rule 193.
Batting for discussion under a rule involving voting, Sudip Bandhopadhyay (TMC) wondered what was the harm in it as the government enjoys a "brute majority" in the Lok Sabha and will win in the eventuality of division of votes.
Noting that over 300 opposition members from both the Houses had joined a protest in the Parliament Complex this morning, he urged Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to sit with the government and thrash out a solution.
Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav (RJD) said the country was passing through a crisis.
Anandrao Adsul (Sena) said his party has welcomed demonetisation as it was necessary to phase out old currency notes to remove fake currency, black money which were supporting terrorism.
Referring to the relaxation for farmers announced by the government on Wednesday, he said it will help them a lot. The decision is being praised in the country as well as abroad, Prem Singh Chandumajra (SAD) said.
Opposition parties then trooped into the Well raising slogans, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House for the day.