New Delhi: Opposition parties on Tuesday joined hands to stall pre-noon proceedings in Rajya Sabha, demanding Rs 10 lakh compensation to the kin of each of the 70 persons who lost their lives post demonetisation and the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the debate on the issue.
The rare unity in opposition parties brought Congress and TMC as well as SP and BSP together as their slogan-shouting members trooped into the Well of the House, even as treasury benches countered them demanding resumption of the debate on the issue.
Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien first adjourned the House till 11.30 am, then till noon and finally till 2 pm.
No sooner were the listed papers laid on the table, Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said the government should pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to kin of the 70 persons who lost their lives due to hardships caused by withdrawal of 500 and 1000 rupee notes.
Naresh Agarwal (SP) and Mayawati (BSP) said Modi should be called before starting discussion on the demonetisation.
"He should come and listen to the pain people have faced because of his decision," Mayawati said.
Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress) said the opposition is ready for discussion on the issue but prime minister should come to the House first. As he spoke, members of the BJP moved into the aisles raising slogans.
At this point, TMC members carrying placards of "Financial Emergency" trooped into the Well, with Congress members following suit. As they shouted slogans from the Well, Kurien said, "You cannot speak in the Well. Shouting in the Well is of no use. If you go back to your seats, I will give you time (to speak)." He told Azad that he was ready to accept his notice under rule 267 seeking suspension of business. "Mr Azad, I am ready to admit your notice under 267 if only there is order in the House."
As BJP members also created a ruckus, an angry Kurien snapped at them. "Why should treasury benches do this? Mr Minister, why should treasury benches do this?" he asked Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
With pandemonium continuing, he said this was "blatant indiscipline."
"Both sides do not want discussion. Not only the opposition, but treasury benches are also disrupting the proceedings. That is very unfortunate," he said before adjourning the proceedings till 11.30 am.
When the House assembled at 11.30 am, Agarwal (SP) alleged that the prime minister does not listen and such a "dictatorial attitude" has never been successful. His remarks led to noisy protests by BJP members.
As several BJP members started speaking at same time, the Deputy Chairman again said, "I fail to understand why treasury benches were disrupting" the proceedings. To this, Naqvi said government only wants that debate on the demonetisation, which started on November 16, should be resumed.
Amid uproar, the Leader of Opposition said 70 people have died due to the "wrong decision" of the prime minister.
"Opposition is for discussion and debate. (Our) demand for (presence) of the prime minister in the House is not anti-national," the senior Congress leader said. Naqvi again sought starting the debate and said replies would be given to all the questions of the Opposition members.
Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) demanded that the prime minister who announced the demonetisation decision should be present in the House. Kurien said he understood the demand that the prime minister should intervene or reply to the debate, but "your demand that he should be here is not possible".
Azad again said the entire opposition wanted the discussion on demonetisation to resume, but the prime minister should come to the House and listen to the concern of the MPs. "He (prime minister) can speak outside, why cannot he speak in the House?" Azad asked.
In an effort to bring order in the House, Kurien said during the discussion each member can demand for presence of the prime minister in the House.
Mayawati (BSP) demanded compensation for those who reportedly died following demonetisation.
As uproar continued, Kurien said that he can call the finance minister in the House as the matter relates to the Finance Ministry, but not the prime minister.
As Congress, TMC and BSP members trooped into the Well, the Chair was forced to adjourn the House till noon.
When the House resumed proceedings at noon, Chairman Hamid Ansari called for Question Hour but the protesting Opposition members kept demanding the presence of the prime minister in the House, as TMC members trooped into the Well.
With continued ruckus, the House was adjourned for the third time for 30 minutes.