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Second half of Budget Session: First day a washout amid protests on AP special status, PNB scam; Houses adjourned

The second half of the Budget Session began on a poor note on Monday, with the first day being a near washout. The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day, within ten minutes of reconvening after lunch. Opposition MPs were raising slogans against the government over its 'failure' to reign in scams in public sector banks and bring back scamsters, while NDA's beleagured ally Telegu Desam Party (TDP) was protesting demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh. The Chair tried to assuage the agitating MPs by acknowledging that the issues raised by them were important ones, and allowing a short duration discussion on PNB scam on Monday. However, the Opposition remained unrelenting.

Meanwhile, TDP continued its protests outside the Parlieamnt, with the party MPs carrying placards on the issue. Earlier on Monday, Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day amid disruptions by the Opposition as well as the Telugu TDP. Both Houses will now reconvene at 11 am on Tuesday.

While TDP MPs continued to demand special category status for the state of Andhra Pradesh on the floor of the House, they were joined by the Opposition members who raised slogans against Nirav Modi, the key accused in the Punjab National Bank fraud case.

Meanwhile, similar scenes were witnessed in the Rajya Sabha earlier too, where a number of adjournment notices on different issues were issued by Opposition MPs. However, continuing sloganeering by TDP and Opposition MPs forced Chairman Venkaiah Naidu to adjourn the Rajya Sabha till 2 pm.

Senior BJP leaders along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi outside Parliament on Monday. PTI

Senior BJP leaders along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi outside Parliament on Monday. PTI

"Don't create hungama," Naidu urged the TDP and the Opposition MPs, even as the ruckus continued.

Congress continued to up the ante against the government over the banking scam. Anand Sharma, deputy leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha issued an adjournment motion over the issue."We will demand answers from the government on the bank fraud scam. We will also demand answers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the scam happened right under his watch," NDTV quoted him as saying.

The BJP, however, pinned the blame for the scam on the Congress. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal was quoted by ANI as saying:

Even outside the Parliament, the anti-government protest continued. While TMC MPs protested against the government over the Punjab National Bank scam near the Gandhi statue, YSRCP and TDP MPs from Andhra Pradesh held a dharna over not granting the promised special status to the state.

Opposition forces washout in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha

Earlier in the day, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were adjourned as soon as they met for the second part of the budget session of Parliament amid opposition protests over the Punjab National Bank fraud and special status to Andhra Pradesh.

As the Question Hour was disrupted, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the House till 12 noon. After the House reassembled, Congress members trooped into the Well with placards demanding a reply from the prime minister on the diamantaire whereabouts.

The Trinamool Congress and Left party MPs also started shouting slogans in protest against the alleged bank fraud amounting to over Rs 12,600 crore by the jewellery designer and his uncle Mehul Choksi who have fled the country.

On the other hand, Rajya Sabha had to be adjourned till 11.20 am after TDP MPs protested against the government to seek special category status for the truncated Andhra Pradesh. A number of adjournment notices on various issues were tabled by Opposition MPs, which the Chairman of the House said will be discussed positively.

Beyond the pandemonium, the Rajya Sabha hailed Aruna Reddy who became the first Indian to win an individual medal at the Gymnastics World Cup. In the Lok Sabha, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan accepted the resignation of Neiphiu Rio, who is set to be the next chief minister of Nagaland.

The ruling BJP, buoyed by its impressive performance in three state polls, and the Opposition, armed with the issue of banking scam, was expected to lock horns over a number of contentious matters in Parliament. The passage of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, which seeks confiscation of assets of absconding fraudsters and loan defaulters, and the triple talaq bill are high on the government's agenda.

The bill to target economic offenders was approved by the government following the escape of Nirav and other accused in the over Rs 12,700-crore Punjab National Bank scam.

The Opposition has sought to pin the blame for the fraud on the government and mounted an attack on it by pointing out that Modi, after liquor baron Vijay Mallya, is the second big offender to flee India with a huge amount of money owed to public banks. Treasury benches and Opposition are likely to slug it out in Parliament over the matter.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Mar 05, 2018 14:57 PM

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