6.15 pm: Lok Sabha completes full days work for the first time this session
And for the first time in a long long time, Parliament witnesses a full days work. Aside from one disruption from the TMC during zero hour which caused an early adjournment, business has been conducted as usual on the floor of the house. The house is in fact still functioning, with “Matters of urgent public importance” being debated at this moment.
Earlier, amendments to the money laundering act were taken up for consideration.
Will this be the status quo for the rest of the session? That should be the case at least tomorrow, though we can’t really say what happens during the FDI debates scheduled for 4 and 5 December.
3.40 pm: CAG report on defence preparedness tabled in Parliament
The CAG report reviewing India’s defence preparedness has been tabled in Parliament.
And as usual the hard hitting, straight talking CAG does not disappoint. The report points to several deficiencies including “Inordinate delay in procurement and integration of a Radar Warning Receiver system” by the Ministry of Defence, and “Procurement of unsuitable Navigation Computers” by the navy.
3.30 pm: CAG report on defence and urban renewal mission tabled in Parliament
The CAG report on the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme has been tabled in Parliament. The report points to several lapses in the Government’s urban infrastructure development scheme, according to this report in The Hindu.
The Times Now channel said the report finds that the Centre’s multi crore project achieved only 8.9% completion and that audit findings indicate the risk of ineligible beneficiaries deriving benefits of this scheme which was intended for the urban poor.
2.45 pm: Parliament debates prevention of money-laundering (amendment)
All is quiet in the Lok Sabha with the angered TMC MPs evidently placated during the break. The amendments to the prevention of money-laundering bill are being debated in the house, with everyone actually allowing each other to talk.
2:20 pm: Mulayam Singh Yadav keeps Congress guessing
Few know how to arm twist the government like Mulayam Singh Yadav. A former wrestler and a veteran of coalition politics, Yadav has refused to commit in public whether the party will back the Congress in both Houses of Parliament in the vote on FDI in retail.
When asked about his party’s decision on FDI in retail, the veteran politician said with a straight face,”We have said there should be a proper debate on the FDI in retail.”
Confused reporters then quickly asked what the party would do in the event of a vote. “We will take the appropriate decision at the appropriate time,” Yadav said, leaving all guessing what his game plan was in Parliament.
2:00 pm: Lok Sabha resumes, Kamal Nath hopes for a smooth vote
Lok Sabha has resumed as normal with Finance Minister P Chidambaram talking about the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Meanwhile Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath says he hopes that the crisis in the two Houses of Parliament are coming to an end.
“The date for Rajya Sabha vote is not decided, as and when Chairman decides, we will hold the debate and vote,” he said.
The numbers are not up to us, Nath said.
Meanwhile Times Now reports that the Samajwadi Party as a compromise might agree to abstain from the vote in the Rajya Sabha instead of voting against the government. The BJP may have been hopeful of support from the party but it doesn’t look like they’re going to get it.
1:20 pm: Now a debate and vote on FDI in retail in Rajya Sabha as well
CNN IBN reports that the government has agreed to have a debate and vote on the FDI in retail legislation in the Rajya Sabha as well.
While speculation was that the debate and vote would be only in the Lok Sabha, the government has agreed to allow the debate and vote in the Rajya Sabha as well.
Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari has admitted notices for discussion on FDI in retail under a rule which entails voting, PTI reported.
The decision comes after the Chairman of the House held an all party meet to resolve the logjam in the house over the legislation.
Incidentally, the Samajwadi Party has continued to contend that they can take different stands in the two Houses of Parliament. So they will vote against FDI in the Rajya Sabha and for it in the Lok Sabha.
1.00 pm: SP in two minds over FDI, debate on 4 Dec
The Samajwadi Party has literally thrown a googly at the government, saying that it would against FDI in retail in the Rajya Sabha. Ram Gopal Yadav told media, “We have always taken decisions on our own, SP will vote against FDI in the Rajya Sabha”
The Samajwadi Party u-turn could perhaps be ascribed to the fact that the party is dead against the SC/ST promotions quota which the BSP has been clamouring for since the beginning of the winter session. The BSP has in fact, been disrupting the upper house everyday, insisting that the bill not only be passed, but that it is also passed before any other matter is taken up for discussion.
Meanwhile Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar has announced that the debate on retail FDI will take place on 4 and 5 December.
12.50 pm: Ansari calls all-party meet to discuss Rajya Sabha deadlock
Chairman of the Rajya Sabha Hamid Ansari has called for an all-party meet in his chamber at 1pm, to discuss how to resolve the deadlock which has not seen a single sessions work at the Rajya Sabha so far. The house has been repeatedly disrupted by BSP MPs who are demanding that the SC/ST Promotions bill be taken up for discussion before any debate on FDI in the retail sector.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath reportedly intimated Ansari that the government was willing to have FDI in retail subject to a discussion and vote under section 184. Ansari’s meeting comes even as CPM leader Sitaram Yechury had reportedly asked why the Rajya Sabha could not function when the Lok Sabha was functioning.
Could we see both houses functioning later today then? Stranger things have been known to happen.
12.17 pm: Persevering TMC manage to get Lok Sabha adjourned
And just when it was all going so well. Angry TMC MPs shouting slogans reiterating their right to explain why they resigned from the council of Ministers manage to get the Lok Sabha adjourned till 2pm. A laudable effort given that they have just nineteen MPs in the house.
12.08 pm Speaker does not allow TMC MP to make special statement on resignation
Sultan Ahmed, an MP from TMC tries to make a special statement on FDI under rule 199. Ahmed tried to repeat the actions of fellow party member Saugata Roy and explain why he and the TMC decided to resign from the Council of Ministers and withdraw support from the government.
Ahmed tried to bring up FDI, and talk about the anti-people measures adopted by the government in introducing a cap on subsidised LPG cylinders and introducing FDI in multi-brand retail. However Meira Kumar stopped the speech, saying that it was not in accordance with rule 199, and introduced zero hour. TMC protests did not faze her either. “If you have any problem with me, come and meet me in my chamber”, she said.
Zero hour is currently underway but the TMC are now shouting slogans reiterating their right to explain why they resigned from the council of Ministers. Thankfully there are only nineteen of them. But this is a much more familiar sight (and sound) of the Parliament we are used to. All that politeness was starting to sound a little creepy.
12.00 pm: Lok Sabha completes question hour, RS adjourned for day
And for the first time this session, and perhaps for most of the monsoon session, the house gets through question hour. Among the questions taken up for discussion were the actions taken on the special recommendations to the Railway Ministry, thermal power plants and access to electricity.
No such luck in the Rajya Sabha with agitating MPs forcing the closure of the session for the day. The agitations were reportedly carried out once again, by the BSP.
11.20 am: Lok Sabha suddenly home to polite MPs
It’s like the twilight zone folks. After days of hearing nothing but slogans of “FDI vapas lo” and other innovative chants and noises, the Lok Sabha is suddenly home to well behaved MPs who are thanking the speaker and each other, waiting for their turn to speak and generally behaving like a Parliament ought to.
Question hour is underway for the first time this session, where newly appointed Railway Minister Pawan Bansal fielded some questions from the TMC who did not miss the opportunity to point out what a good job they had done with the ministry.
Erm.. we remember different. Click here for our piece on the ‘invisible’ Railway Minister Mukul Roy,
11.00 am: Lok Sabha functions, Rajya Sabha adjourned
And the logjam over FDI in retail seems to have broken in the Lok Sabha at least. After the Congress government indicated that it would be willing to allow a vote on FDI and a flurry of meetings, the Lok Sabha is seeing a functioning Parliament for the first time this entire session.
Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar announced that there would be a discussion and vote on FDI, and said she hoped that the session would function smoothly, while a smiling placating Sushma Swaraj promised that this would be the case. The date and time of the debate and vote are yet to be discussed.
Question hour is now underway with Congress minister Pawan Bansal answering questions.
No such luck with the Rajya Sabha which was adjourned will noon over an uproar over the SC/ST quota. The BSP has made it clear that they will not allow any discussion over FDI in retail until the SC/ST promotions bill is passed in Parliament.
10: 30 am: Will allow House to function only if debate on FDI in retail allowed, says Sushma
Sushma Swaraj says that the only way they would allow the Lok Sabha to function was if there was a debate and vote on FDI in retail
No word yet from Mayawati on whether she will disrupt the house if they will take up FDI in retail over quota in promotions.
So presently its a waiting game to see if anyone will disrupt Parliament and if they do, over what issue.
10: 20 am: Kamal Nath says he hopes that Parliament will function normally today
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath seems to be pretty confident that Parliament will function normally today.
En route to meeting the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Nath said he was confident that the two Houses of Parliament would function normally today given that most MPs wanted the institution to function normally.
“I do hope that we will make some kind of impact today,” Nath said.
He’s not the only one.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj is also meeting with the Speaker.
10:15 am: Will BSP play spoiler to the truce reached between the Congress and BJP?
Speculation is already rife that the BSP will play the spoiler to the carefully laid plan for the vote on FDI in retail in Parliament.
The Mayawati-led party is still backing the quota in promotions in government jobs while the Samajwadi Party remains opposed to it. Will we see the BSP MPs in the well of the house again? No word yet from Behenji on this yet.
Looks like Parliament will sound much like the Uttar Pradesh Assembly if the two parties decide to make it their battleground today.
9:30 am: Does the Congress really have the numbers to survive a vote on FDI and will it be allowed to take place?
After negotiations with both its allies and its opponents, the Congress party finally said yesterday that the Speaker of the House would decide the course ahead for FDI in retail in Parliament, which could well be the party’s way of saying that its ok with a vote on the issue.
While the BJP has already said it will settle for nothing less than a debate and a vote, there are others like the Bahujan Samaj Party which have said they will not allow a discussion on anything until the quota in promotions legislation is passed.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath met with the leaders of Opposition in both houses, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, after which the two parties reached an agreement for a debate on the legislation.
“We have left the decision with the speaker,” Nath said after the meeting.
Sushma Swaraj asked why the government was not going ahead with voting on the contentious issue if it was confident of its numbers.
“…it has become necessary for us now to voice our opinions and for that we need to vote,” she told reporters after her meeting Kamal Nath.
“We have clearly said that the parliament will function only after a debate under Rule 184 and we are requesting the same today. The PM has said that he is confident of getting the majority and that the DMK is also supporting the government…if the numbers are in your favour then why don’t you go for voting on the issue?” she asked.
However, according to an Indian Express report, while the Congress and UPA may survive the vote and debate on FDI in retail, they can’t expect support from the BJP on any other legislation just yet. The Congress has reportedly agreed to let there be a debate and voting on the legislation only in the Lok Sabha and not the Rajya Sabha.
So here’s a list of other legislations that are unlikely to be passed even in this session of Parliament given the division between the Congress and its allies and the lack of any consensus with the Opposition. So while the two biggest parties battle for prestige, the ultimate loser as always is the voter.