Par washout: Finance Bill not taken up

NEW DELHI: The crucial Finance Bill for 2018-19 could not be taken up in the Lok Sabha today as unabated noisy protests took toll of the proceedings in both Houses of Parliament for the seventh consecutive day.

The Lok Sabha, which was scheduled to take up the Finance Bill 2018-19 and the Appropriation bills for FY 2017-18 and 2018-19 today, was first adjourned till noon following uproar by members of the opposition and NDA allies like TDP and then for the day after the listed papers were laid.

Cut motions on demands for grants of the ministries of railways, agriculture and farmers’ welfare and social justice and empowerment were also listed in the business agenda of the Lower House today, which could not be taken up.

Uproarious scenes were also witnessed in the Rajya Sabha too where protests by opposition, the TDP and AIADMK over issues like bank scam and special status for Andhra Pradesh continued for the seventh day, disrupting proceedings in the House. Both the Houses have failed to function since the second leg of Budget Session began on March 5.

In the Lok Sabha, both the Question Hour and the Zero Hour were washed out as scores of members from the TDP, Congress, AIADMK, TRS and Trinamool Congress trooped into the Well, forcing Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to first adjourn the proceedings for about 50 minutes soon after it had assembled for the day.

When the House reassembled at noon, the protests continued and no legislative business could be carried out.

Members of YSR Congress and TDP, which quit the central government last week but remains part of the ruling NDA, were demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh.

While the Congress and the Trinamool Congress raised the issue of Rs 12,700 crore fraud in Punjab National Bank, the TRS sought increased reservation quota and AIADMK wanted the government to set up Cauvery management board. Members from the Left parties were seen standing at their seats, holding some photographs. But the issue they wanted to raise could not be ascertained in the melee.

As the bedlam continued, the Speaker adjourned the proceedings for the day after the tabling of the listed papers.

The Rajya Sabha proceedings were also washed out for the seventh day as protests by members including those from NDA allies continued on similar issues.

Soon after it assembled, the Upper House was adjourned till 2 pm as noisy protests continued, with the Trinamool Congress and other parties insisting that a discussion on the bank scam be held under rules that entail voting.

When the House met at 11 AM, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu urged the members to allow the proceedings, but adjourned the proceedings the moment MPs from parties of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, TMC and Congress were on their feet.

The government, he said, has agreed for a discussion on the issues being raised by the opposition, but the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and other parties wanted the debate under a rule that entails voting.

Naidu said debates on India’s biggest bank fraud and other issues have been permitted under rule 176 that provides for a member to give notice of a Short Duration Discussion without the voting clause. But opposition insisted on a discussion on banking fraud under rule 168/169 which require voting.

Referring to the protests, he said seven days have been lost and appealed to leaders of parties and members to allow the House to function “because people are being impatient and (protests) show Parliament in poor light.”

He said “the government is agreeable to that and the Chair has also permitted,” he said, adding “I don’t find any reason for agitation. Let us put an end to this… Let the House function effectively. Let us raise the level of debate.”

Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) said his party has given a notice for discussion on the PNB fraud issue under rule 168. He said rule 169 of Rules of Procedures of Conduct of Rajya Sabha requires 15 conditions to be met to have such a discussion and his notice meets all of them. “If my motion is not accepted, principle of natural justice will be denied,” Roy said.

But Naidu said a discussion can be allowed under rule 176, which was not acceptable to the protestors.

They soon started to rise from their places to protest and some MPs from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh started moving towards the Well, prompting Naidu to adjourn the proceedings till 2 pm.

Earlier, Naidu also asked members not to make comments while being seated. His remarks were in reference to catcalls being made from treasury benches when he called P Chidambaram to lay on the table a standing committee report on Home Affairs.

As Chidambaram was absent, some BJP members made certain remarks, provoking forceful protests and comments from opposition Congress side. Naidu ruled that no comment made by either side would go on record.

When the House reassembled at 2 PM, the protesting MPs, including those from the NDA partner TDP, trooped into the Well raising slogans and displaying placards.

Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien, who was in the Chair, tried to take up a calling attention motion on strategic storage of crude oil in the country and asked BJP’s C K Gohel to initiate the discussion.

However, the members in the Well, including those from TDP and AIADMK, continued to raise slogans and displaying placards.

An anguished Kurien said “This is not fair … If this is the way MPs are behaving, I will adjourn the House. … I don’t agree with this….”, he said before adjourning the proceedings for the day. (AGENCIES