2.24 pm: Parliament adjourned till Thursday
Following the furor over the missing Coalgate files, the parliament was adjourned till Thursday.
12.19 pm: Congress, BJP point at each other over missing Coalgate files
The Congress has now decided to turn the Coalgate storm back at the Opposition. Sriprakash Jaiswal read out a formal statement in the Lok Sabha, however, sounded out a warning at the Opposition by saying that the files which have gone missing date back to years before 2004 when the NDA government was in power.
Prior to that Jaiswal informed the House, as a part of his formal statement, that a committee headed by the addtional secretary has been formed to probe the incident of missing Coalgate files. He added that the members of the committee have already met twice and are trying their best to trace the files and find how they went missing.
The Opposition, as expected were not pacified by his statement, especially after they failed in their attempt to rope the PM in to make a statement and corner him. "Files don't disappear, they are made to disappear," said Arun Jaitley rubbishing the coal miniser's statement. Previously, he had alleged that files comcerning 'one family's involevement' in the scam has gone missing - take a not to veiled potshot at the Gandhi family.
It was then that the BJP's demands for the PM's explanations were backed by CPI(M)'s Sitaram Yechury. "It is very simple. The scam dates back to the period when someone else was the coal minister. It makes sense that the then minister comes and makes a statement in that regard. Also, the CAG had come out with a detailed report on the discrepancies in the coal block allocations. I am sure they have copies of the files. Why can't the government source the files from them?" asked Yechury.
To which Rajeev Shukla retorted that since all the files missing belong to years from 1993 to 2004, all the coal ministers who had held the portfolios in all those years should be made to come and speak before the House.
Briefly cornered by the nature of their own demands, Jaitley fought back asking the government if no file from years after 2004 has gone missing. Just as the Coal Minister tried explaining that the CBI probe will give answers to all those questions, chaos broke out and the Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 2pm.
Sriprakash Jaiswal, however, decides to counter Ravi Sankar Prasad's every eye-roll and finger-wag with his own. He waves his finger in the air, threatening, that if all the allegations against him are proven true he is ready to face the consequences. "If they aren't I'd ask the opposition if they are ready to face the punishment," he hollers menacingly at the BJP.
11.30 pm: Coalgate storm blows over Parliament, and the Food Security Bill too?
The Food Security Bill has to wait for some more time it seems. Having found the potential for political fireworks in the missing Coalgate files incident, the Opposition raises an outcry over them. Curiously enough both the Houses, at the same time, demand the Prime Minister to turn up and make a statement.
While present coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal does attempt to deliver a statement in the Rajya Sabha, he is interrupted by the opposition who doesn't budge from their demand that the PM should come and talk. One BJP MP plunges headlong into the process of naming and shaming the PM by saying, "The minister who is corrupt, the minister who has blackened his face, should come and answer the nation." Now translate that into Bollwyood Hindi and you wouldn't miss watching a movie right in the middle of a work day anymore!
Sushma Swaraj, however, has stripped her Parliamentary address of ornate rhetoric these days. She quickly reminds the Lok Sabha that the Prime Minister had himself admitted before the house, a year ago, that he will take responsibility for the Coalgate probe. "He should come and assure the House about the progress in the investigation. The files which have gone missing are ones which can implicate Congress ministers, ones which are proof of faulty decisions taken by the ministry. The PM should come and assure us that the files will be recovered, when they will be recovered and that the investigation process will not be affected due to it," asks Swaraj.
Chaos seizes the House immediately after and the Lok Sabha is adjourned till 12 pm, like the Rajya Sabha.
11.05 am: Telangana takes centre-stage again
As we predicted, the Andhra Pradesh MPs, in their elements, look all set to disrupt the Parliament again. They started the day with a victory as the Lok Sabha had to be adjourned within seven minutes of it beginning the day's business. Amid the defeaning 'we want justice' cry, the Indira Gandhi National University for Women Bill was introduced.
On the other hand, the BJP has decided to disrupt the Rajya Sabha until the Prime Minister makes a statement on the missing Coalgate files.
Put your ear plugs in, this is going to be a high voltage day at work for the Indian MPs in the Parliament!
11.05 am: Ominous signs: Andhra MPs look like they will scuttle everything
The All-Party meeting has, if anything, further strengthened the resolve of Andhra Pradesh MPs to disrupt the house. Papers have been laid on the table of the house, but Defence Minister AK Antony who is attempting to make a statement, is being utterly drowned out.
Will Marshals be employed to escort the agitated Andhra MPs? We watch and wait with interest.
10.40 am: Test of wills? UPA determined to pass food bill, BJP wants to talk Vadra
It's D-day for the food bill as far as the UPA is concerned. Given its earlier vow to pass the populist measure by 20 August, the government is determined to do whatever it takes to pass the legislation.
NDTV reported that Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar called an all-party meeting to discuss any disruptions to the house. NDTV quoting sources, said the meeting discussed several options including naming-and-shaming, asking the members to leave the house or vacate them from the house by using marshals.
Earlier Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said it would accept all "workable" amendments to the bill.
"We are looking at this situation that if it is an amendment which is workable, the government will move that amendment. It will come in as an official amendment," Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath told reporters outside Parliament House when asked about the 200-odd amendments.
The BJP has indicated that it will support the bill, but not in its current form. In fact media reports on Tuesday indicated that the party would move further amendments to the bill.
"We have some concerns that have to be addressed. Quotas allotted to states have to be protected. They should incorporate it, take a call on it, but they must also address the economic situation. After all you need money to implement these schemes and today, where is the money?"
In the meantime the BJP has also indicated that it plans to corner the government on the 'Missing' files in the coal scam, and also Robert Vadra's land dealings.
End of updates for 19 August
6:05 pm: Kharge makes statement on Bihar railway tragedy, gets slammed by other MPs
Mallikarjuna Kharge made a brief statement on the tragedy in Bihar which resulted in the death of over 30 people.
He promptly was slammed by the JD(U) MP who said the railways was more responsible for the incident than the state government.
Kharge after facing criticism began answering questions from MPs, when he managed to make a snarky comment about TMC MP Derek O'Brien's MBA degree.
He quickly backtracked, apologised and promised compensation for the victims of the tragedy.
5:50 pm: Antony says govt united in backing armed forces, sanctity of LoC will be maintained
AK Antony assured the Rajya Sabha that the entire government was united in backing the Indian Army against aggression from across the body and said there was no difference in opinion over suspending talks for now.
"Our army is taking all possible steps to retaliate to every action along LoC," Antony told the Rajya Sabha.
He said the armed forces would do everything to maintain the sanctity of the Line of Control.
"I assure the House that our security forces will do everything to protect the sanctity of the Line of Control," he said.
He also said that he spoke for the government when he made his statement in Parliament and they have decided not to engage with Pakistan until the situation along the LoC is resolved.
"This is the mood of the entire government and there are no differences," Antony said, adding that the army would retaliate to any threat from across the border.
5:30 pm: Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley questions logic of bilaterial ties
Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley questioned the need for bilateral ties between India and Pakistan.
"Rules of engagement are clear. You engage when there is an environment for engagement," he said
"Do we at this state start engagement at the highest levels of the government?" jaitley said.
Questioning the Defence Minister's statement he asked,"Is the government even now considering engagement between heads of government?"
5:20 pm: Rajya Sabha MPs seek clarifications from Antony over LoC attack
MPs cutting across parties are questioning the Defence Minister AK Antony about what action has been taken and will be taken against Pakistan Army personnel responsible for the attack.
"What action is being taken? Have you authorised for the Indian Army to attack the camps from which such attacks are organised?" Ram Gopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party asked Antony.
A JD(U) MP told the Defence Minister that he had visited the home of one of the deceased and the only question he faced from everyone in the village was when India would give Pakistan a "moonh tod jawab".
5:10 pm: Rajya Sabha passes Wakf Amendement Bill
The Rajya Sabha has been functioning through the day and after a lengthy debate, the Upper House has passed the Wakf Amendment Bill. (here's what that's about)
2.29 pm: Bill first or clarifications first?
After much back and forth, the 'sense of the house' is held to be that a bill will be passed before the opposition seeks clarifications on Antony's statement. As a reward for the opposition members who are being so cooperative, deputy Chairman PJ Kurien says that there will be no time limit for Members of the house to seek clarification.
Everyone is happy, and Kurien gets a cheer. This is an unusually happy Rajya Sabha. Cheers all round.
2.22 pm: AK Antony makes statement on Sindhurakshak
The Defence Ministers statement on Sindhurakshak did not get off to a good start, with him getting the name wrong and calling it 'Sindhushakti'. The slip went by however and the Minister began talking about the chain of events that resulted in the loss of 18 lives aboard the submarine.
Antony also said that there was still no word on why the submarine had gone down, and that further investigations needed to be conducted. "We still don't know the reason. A board of inquiry has been constituted and will give its findings at the latest", he said.
He also said that the Navy has ordered an audit of SOPs and checks on all weapon-related safety systems on board its submarines.
"We are deeply saddened by the incident and the loss of lives, we will give counseling and all support to the family members", he added.
MoS Parliamentary Affairs, Rajeev Shukla then asked that clarifications be held for a while until another statement is made, but this as usual, is leading to shouting and strife in the Parliament.
2.19 pm: AK Antony makes another statement on Pakistan
Defence Minister AK Antony is making a statement on Pakistan's constant LoC violations. At the moment, the speech seems to be a repeat of his earlier speech in both houses of Parliament, holding Pakistan responsible for the attacks and warning of impact on bilateral ties.
12.36 pm: Onions are also important
Rajiv Shukla has stood up to reply to the BJP, but they are not interested in hearing what he has to say. They want the Prime Minister or coal Minister to make a statement.
Shukla has made an assurance that Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal will make a statement today at an 'appropriate time'.
"But will he come into the house?!!!", asks Venkiah Naidu. Kurien says he will, but the BJP is still not satisfied. Shukla repeats that he will come to the house.
Kurien is now trying to steer the debate towards onion prices. "Onion is also important! Can you think of onion! The poor, the poor!", he says.
12.30 pm: 'Missing' Coalgate files being brought up in RS
The BJP has, as promised brought up the missing Coalgate files in the Rajya Sabha.
BJP MP Venkiah Naidu slammed the Prime Minister asking why he hadn't made a statement in the house after the Congress party's shocking revelation, but was asked to sit down because he had not asked for prior permission. Balbir Punj tries to add his two cents in but was told to sit down because he had only asked to talk about the price of onions.
Personally, the common man today would probably be more interested in onions than the fate of coal allocation files, but who can miss out on such a big political opportunity?
12.08 pm: PJ Kurien has done it! Question hour proceeds in RS
So Kurien with his constant refrain of "No Please!" "Sit down!" has done it. He also named and shamed MPs who were out of their seats, chastising them for insulting the house. Given how all the eminent MPs hackles were raised when they were allegedly referred to as 'anarchists', maybe they had a point to prove.
Either way, we're seeing some work in the house, which is very welcome.
12.00 pm: Nope. All Party meet has not worked
What all party meet? There has been little to no change in the situation, with MPs screaming and drowning out Rajiv Shukla who is trying to make a statement.
Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien is not amused. "This is unbecoming. This is against the rules. Go back to your seats!", he is shouting.
Will we see another adjournment? Looks like it.
11.30 am: Hamid Ansari calls All Party meet
He can't call them anarchists, but he can call an All-Party meet. Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari has convened a meet to discuss the rules of disruption. Given his constant pleas that no banners are allowed in the house, this meeting has clearly been a long time coming.
Be as it may however, it is very unlikely that we will see much work done today, given the intensity with which the BJP has been baying for blood over the 'missing' coalgate files.
11.10 am: Rajya Sabha adjourned for 15 minutes
However, chaos took over Rajya Sabha immediately after it opened and chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the session for 15 minutes. The House tried to resume the day's business after a 15-minute break, however, with some MPs raising an unintelligible din, the RS got adjourned for another half an hour.
11.oo am: Lok Sabha adjourned for a day
As a mark of respect for the sailors who lost their lives in the Sindurakshak tragedy, the Lok Sabha was adjourned for a day.
10.30 am: Will coalgate derail food bill in Parliament today?
The Indian political parties' chosen way to register protest, as has been evident over the past one year, is holding the Parliament hostage. While the other sessions of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have mostly fallen prey to squabbles between the BJP and the ruling party Congress over a series of issues from Coalgate to FDI, the Monsoon session has witnessed the rare occasion of both the big parties expressing their wish to let the Houses function.
However, most of the past few sessions of the Parliament has been disrupted by just a handful of MPs from the Seemandhra region demanding an United Andhra Pradesh and 'justice for Andhra Pradesh'. Every debate, including ones on LoC ceasefire violations etc have been derailed by the Andhra MPs with a demand roster no party in the House seems to keen on hearing.
Congress' Food Security Bill has been introduced in the House, but a debate on it is yet to take place thanks to the many disruptions. Seeing the MPs' flair for disturbing the Parliament's proceedings chairman Hamid Ansari had angrily asked the Rajua Sabha MPs if they wanted to be called a 'federation of anarchists'. Result? The outraged MPs raised a din leading to the adjournment of the House with trouble spilling over into next day's sessions.
The parliament opens today again after a four day break. While leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj had expressed her willingness to debate the Food Security Bill, chances are slim that the bill will find mention today with the BJP sharpening its claws to attack the Congress over the missing Coalgate files.
Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal has admitted that at least 13 files containing important documents from 1993-2004 which would be crucial to the ongoing CBI investigation, have gone missing.
"This is with the sole intention to protect the Prime Minister because he was the Coal Minister. And they are into a massive cover up. That is why they say that some files are missing or misplaced,” said BJP Spokesperson Prakash Javadekar.
Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav also hit out at the Coal Ministry for the missing files of the coal allocation scam and said that it was the responsibility of the Coal Minister and the Secretary and added that the Central government must take immediate action against them.
The Samajwadi Party, too, is up in arms. “It is a serious matter. I feel that many others are involved in this. The Coal Minister must clarify regarding the missing coalgate files. If he doesn’t do it, we’d have no option but to seek his resignation,” said SP leader Naresh Agarwal.
With most of the parties in Opposition and its allies ready to hammer the Congress with uncomfortable questions, the party will have to brace for a storm.
Here's a list of bills supposed to come up in the Parliament.
1. National Food Security Bill, 2013
2. Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011
3. Securities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2013
4. Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill, 2011
(For introduction) Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University Bill, 2013 & Civil Aviation Authority of India Bill, 2013
Read updates from the previous Parliament sessions here.