Day Six of the Winter Session of Parliament was another day of unproductivity for lawmakers, who created a ruckus in both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha over a number of issues, most prominently the Rafale fighter jet deal. Both Houses were adjourned within minutes of convening — the Lok Sabha for an hour till noon and the Rajya Sabha till 2 pm — only to be adjourned for the day within minutes of reconvening, with no discussions over any of the pending bills.
The primary demand of Congress MPs was an investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into the Rafale deal.
Amid the din in the Lok Sabha, party leader Mallikarjun Kharge demanded a JPC investigation into the fight jet agreement and also questioned whether the government was indeed ready for a discussion or debate on the Rafale controversy. To support his argument, he pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi rarely comes to Parliament and "doesn't say two words in the House". Khadge also raised questions about the CAG and PAC reports that the Centre made claims about to the Supreme Court.
Besides the Rafale deal, MPs of the AIDMK and DMK, too, disrupted proceedings as they have been demanding that the Centre revoke the permission granted to Karnataka to construct a reservoir-cum-drinking water project at Mekedatu across the Cauvery river. MPs of the Telugu Desam Party also shouted slogans in the House, demanding special category status for Andhra Pradesh.
Congress versus BJP
The Lok Sabha turned into a battlegound for sloganeering by members of the rival party, with both coming up with their own versions of "gali, gali mein shor hai..."
The session began with BJP leaders holding up placards that read "Rahul Gandhi maafi maango" (Rahul Gandhi apologise), referring to his comments on the Rafale deal. Leaders of both parties then tried to out-shout each other — with the BJP crying "Gali, gali mein shor hai, Rahul Gandhi chor hai" and "Gali, gali mein shor hai, Rahul Gandhi chor hai", and the Congress adopting its favourite "Gali, gali mein shor hai, chowkidaar chor hai" slogan.
More than 30 members from the AIADMK, the TDP and the Congress trooped into the Well during the Question Hour, despite appeals by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to return to their seats and allow discussions in the Lok Sabha.
Along with the Speaker, a few ministers made a valiant effort to discuss agrarian issues, and a minister even succeeded in introducing the National Institute of Design (Amendment) Bill. But attempts at a discussion were futile, and Mahajan adjourned the House soon after.
Speaker schools MPs
Parliament is for discussion and debate, the Lok Sabha Speaker said after MPs continued to disrupt proceedings and didn't allow any issues to be discussed.
"The government is ready to discuss anything you want, but this is not the way. It is not sending a good message. We have to face the public," she said. "I'm requesting you again and again. Whatever discussions you want will be done as per the rules."
"People abroad also ask what is happening in the Indian Parliament?... We must show some responsibility. I'll request the government myself to hold a discussion. We must maintain a standard in Parliament."
After her appeals fell on deaf ears, Mahajan adjourned the House for the day.
Exasperated Naidu adjourns Rajya Sabha with no debate
Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha Venkaiah Naidu began the day's session with an appeal to MPs to allow the House to hold discussions, promising to list subjects for discussion as per priority, but to no avail.
Like the Lok Sabha, the Upper House, too, was adjourned till 2 pm within minutes of convening after several MPs stood near the chair's podium and began to shout slogans. Among them were leaders of the AIADMK and DMK, who held placards and protested with slogans against Karnataka's proposed dam on the Cauvery river.
Before the House was adjourned, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the most important issue was that of the breach of privilege of the House by the government in the Rafale deal. "The government has misled Parliament and the Supreme Court through a wrong affidavit, and thus it misled the country on the Rafale deal," Azad said.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel said the government was ready to discuss all issues, including Rafale, in the Rajya Sabha, accusing the Opposition of "running away from discussion". As the ruckus continued, Naidu adjourned the House till 2 pm.
After the House reconvened, Congress leader Anand Sharma objected to BJP leaders demanding an apology from Rahul Gandhi for his statements on the Rafale deal. But BJP leaders shouted down his statements, forcing Naidu to adjourn the House for the day within four minutes of reconvening.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Dec 18, 2018 16:12 PM