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Demonetisation stalls Parliament again: You're sent to speak, not sit on dharna, says President Pranab

Both Houses of Parliament were disrupted on Wednesday, Day 14 of the Winter Session, as Opposition parties kept up their demand for a debate on the government's demonetisation drive including a vote on the issue. The disruptions, which forced several adjournments throughout the day, forced President Pranab Mukherjee to launch a scathing attack on the Opposition. Mukherjee said the House is not a place for dharna and disruptions, which amount to "gagging of majority" by the minority.

He told Parliamentarians that they are meant to discuss and transact business and not to disrupt. "Disruption is totally unacceptable in Parliamentary system. People send representatives to speak and not sit on dharna and not to create any trouble on the floor," he said. "For demonstration, you can choose any other places. But for God's sake, do your job. You are meant to transact business. You are meant to devote your time for exercising the authority of members, particularly Lok Sabha members over money and finance," he said.

The Rajya Sabha saw members disrupt proceedings over the demonetisation issue. Soon after the House resumed post lunch at 2 pm, chairman Hamid Ansari asked members to resume their debate on demonetisation, but opposition members raised slogans, which were countered by members from the treasury benches. Ansari adjourned the house for the day.

 Demonetisation stalls Parliament again: Youre sent to speak, not sit on dharna, says President Pranab

Representational image. PTI

Earlier in the day, it was adjourned twice over the same issue. It happened once after the House met for the day. After the members assembled, the Opposition alleged that more than 100 people died so far in the aftermath of demonetisation. It led to a ruckus that forced an adjournment till 12 noon. When the house assembled at noon, opposition members began raising slogans against the demonetisation of Rs 500 and 1,000 notes. Ansari then adjourned the house till 2 pm. The third adjournment was the day's last.

Lok Sabha disrupted

Proceedings in the Lok Sabha were also disrupted, as the Opposition continued to engage in sloganeering, demanding a debate on demonetisation under a rule that entails voting. As soon as the House assembled, leader of Congress in the House, Mallikarjun Kharge, wanted to raise some issue but Speaker Sumitra Mahajan did not allow him and started Question Hour.

This prompted members belonging to the Congress, Trinamool and Left parties to rush into the Well, demanding discussion on demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes under Rule 184 which entails division.

As Mahajan refused to concede to the demand, Opposition members raised slogans to press for it. Apart from usual English and Hindi slogans, the members also raised slogans in regional languages like Malayalam and Bengali. As the din continued, an upset Speaker warned the protesting MPs not to disturb the entire House through their protests. "What is this? I am warning you. Please, please, I am repeatedly telling you if you want to debate, debate. But don't disturb the whole House," she said.

Members belonging to Samajwadi Party and NCP extended their support to their Opposition counterparts by standing in the aisles along their seats. Amidst continued din, the Speaker took up five questions before adjourning the House for nearly 20 minutes till noon.

Congress and Left members were seen wearing black bands on their right arm as a mark of protest against demonetisation, which was announced exactly a month ago.

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, who was recently hospitalised, was present in the House. She was seen engaging in intimate discussions with her son and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and party leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Jyotirditya Scindia and Deepender Singh Hooda.

Jaitley dares Congress

Under attack over demonetisation, the government sought to turn tables in the Lok Sabha, by daring Congress to spell out a single decision it had taken against black money when it was in power for 10 years. "I today challenge them (Congress) to spell out a single step that they had taken during 10-year of their rule against black money," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said while
replying to a short discussion on second batch of 'Supplementary Demand for Grants', which was subsequently passed by the House.

Refuting allegations that government has given an additional route to people to convert black money into white by paying 50 percent tax, Jaitley said the effective liability on them would be about 65 percent, much higher than 8 percent under the Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme (VDIS) of 1997.

"It is not just 50 percent. Out of remaining 50 percent, 25 percent would be kept by government for four years. If you calculate interest on that, the effective tax comes out to be 65 percent," he said. "Although Congress made promises, they never made so much expenditure on the scheme," the finance minister said, adding that during the UPA regime, the actual expenditure used to be much less than what was mentioned in the Budget.

The finance minister said India was considered one of the five "fragile" economies in the world two-and-a-half years ago. "Today, India has become a bright spot in the global economy. India is set to become the fastest growing large economy of the world in third year in a row," he added.

As regards demonetisation, he expressed the hope that situation would normalise by the end of this month and every effort is being made to minimise hardship of people who had to stand in long queues to get currency. "I should clarify that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that we will normalise the situation by 30 December. We will try and minimise hardship faced by the people. Every day, RBI puts money into the system. Efforts are being made to move towards less cash and a digital economy," he said.

Supplementary Demand for Grant approved

During a short debate which was conducted, Trinamool Congress and some other opposition parties, including several members including Kirit Somaya (BJP), Jayadev Galla (TDP) and Dushyant Chautala (INLD) spoke on Supplimentary Demand for Grants.

After the Supplementary Demands for Grant was approved by the Lok Sabha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar
appealed to the Opposition to shun its protest and agree to a debate on demonetisation under Rule 193 which does not entail
voting.

He accused the Opposition of running away from the debate by continuing the protest. Opposition members, meanwhile, continued to shout slogans against against the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and demanded debate under Rule 184 which entails voting. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan then adjourned the Lok Sabha for the day.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Dec 08, 2016 19:26:30 IST

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