Parl remains stalled as session enters 3rd week


As the Winter session entered its third week today, Parliament remained deadlocked and stalled due to stand-off between the Opposition and the Government over demonetisation and how the debate should be held on it.
For the 13th consecutive day, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha failed to transact any business due to the uproar created by the Opposition over demonetisation, even as the Government expressed readiness to discuss the issue and listen to the views of members regarding “deficiencies” in its implementation so that these can be corrected.
The Lok Sabha could not function because of differences over the Rule under which a debate should be held while the Rajya Sabha was paralysed due to uproar by Opposition over cash crunch due to demonetisation.
In the Lok Sabha, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the Government is ready for a debate but it should be left to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to take a decision regarding the Rule under which the debate should be undertaken.
Singh, who spoke after Mallikarjun Kharge (Cong), Sudip Bandhyopadhyay (Trinamool Congress), Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Jithender Reddy (TRS) and Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav (RJD), said it was clear that nobody was questioning the intent of the Government over demonetisation even though some felt it was not done in a proper way.
He also said the Opposition was divided as parties like TRS and BJD wanted debate under Rule 193 which does not entail voting instead of Rule 184 which entails voting as demanded by parties like Congress, Trinamool Congress and Left.
Congress and Trinamool, however, maintained its demand that a debate should be held under Rule 184.
An attempt was made to take up the debate under Rule 193, with TRS leader A P Jithender Reddy being called to initiate the discussion.
As Opposition members protested the move, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said for the past two weeks all members have been seeking a debate on the issue of note ban. He said while the opposition has been demanding a vote on the debate, it should be held under Rule 193.
As Reddy rose to speak, Trinamool Congress members surrounded him and created a lot of noise by resorting to shouting, including using the TRS leader’s microphone.
Meanwhile, Congress members were in the Well of the House, shouting slogans.
Reddy, who has been favouring a debate under Rule 193, spoke briefly but nothing could be heard in the din.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar also said something which could not be heard.
As chaos prevailed, the House was adjourned for the day at around 2.10 pm.
After the proceedings ended, Trinamool Congress members, who were surrounding Reddy, were seen shaking hands with him. Later, Reddy went up to Rajnath Singh and the two were seen chatting, with the Home Minister patting him.
Earlier also, the House was stalled due to chaos because of divergence of positions over mechanism for voting.
When the House met for the day, Kharge raised the issue of problems being faced by people due to cash crunch after demonetisation. He said over 100 people have died across the country while standing in queues outside banks and ATMs to withdraw their money.
People are unable to get their salary and pension, said Kharge who was joined by Sudip Bandopadhyay of Trinamool Congress and leaders of some other Opposition parties.
He said his party was not opposed to steps to curb black money and corruption but the implementation of demonetisation was “faulty”, as a result of which people were facing hardship.
He contended that Congress is willing to have a debate unlike the message going out that it is running away from it.
17 Opposition parties have now decided to seek a debate under Rule 184 that also entails voting instead of Rule 56 under which an adjournment motion is taken up, he said.
“We have come down from Rule 56 to Rule 184. Now the Government should also come down from Rule 193 and agree to Rule 184,” he said evoking laughter.
The Government has been maintaining that it was ready for a debate on demonetisation of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes under Rule 193 that does not entail voting.
Supporting Kharge, Bandopadhyay said the treasury benches should not put pressure on the Opposition by sticking to a particular point. “You have brute majority in the House. But you are avoiding voting, we don’t know why,” he said.
CPI(M) member P Karunakaran also supported Kharge and Bandopadhyay and wanted the debate to be held under Rule 184.
However, Ananth Kumar said BJD and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) had given notice to hold the debate under Rule 193 and their wish should also be respected.
“Please don’t take it as a prestige issue. Let’s all start the debate. Let all parties come together to fight against the black money,” he said.
Kumar said they were ready for suspension of Question Hour and initiate debate if the opposition agreed to Rule 193.
Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia countered Kumar and said the Opposition too was against blackmoney and terrorism and ready to start debate under Rule 184.
The Speaker said she was ready to start the debate right away if the House agreed. The debate was listed in today’s list of business under Rule 193.
She said BJD and TRS had given notices and she cannot ignore them. “They also have their voice and we have to listen to them too,” she said, rejecting the opposition demand.
The Speaker wanted members to take up the debate without any rules and said whether to take up division of votes on this or not can be decided later.
This was not acceptable to opposition members who again stormed the Well chanting slogans and targeting the Prime Minister.
Mahajan said “Chair is ready to help you. But you don’t want any discussion”. (PTI)


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