Parliament witnessed fireworks for the second consecutive day on Tuesday as an unrelenting BJP-led Opposition took on the government on issues ranging from price rise and corruption to land acquisition.
The Opposition’s insistence on a debate in both Houses over price rise and corruption under rules which entail voting led to repeated adjournments. Both Houses failed to transact any business, the only exception being that sports minister Ajay Maken was able to make a suo moto statement defending the PMO’s role on the issue of the appointment of jailed former Commonwealth Games organising committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi as the lead man in conducting the sporting event. Mr Maken said the NDA when it was in government was responsible for appointing Mr Kalmadi CWG OC chairman.
The Lok Sabha was adjourned twice in the forenoon on a range of issues raised by different political parties. While the BSP wanted the immediate tabling of the land acquisition bill, the SP wanted the dismissal of the BSP government and the Shiv Sena demanded that Afzal Guru, convicted in the Parliament attack case, be hanged.
All the members of these parties waved placards and rushed to the Well of the House shouting slogans, much to the chagrin of Speaker Meira Kumar whose repeated appeals to the members to put down their placards and return to their seats were ignored, forcing Ms Kumar to adjourn the House till noon. When the House re-assembled at noon, there was no let-up in the demands of the very same members who continued to disrupt proceedings. This led the Speaker to adjourn the Lower House till 2 pm.
In the afternoon the situation was no different. But amidst the slogan-shouting, the sports minister stood up to make a suo moto statement in which he shifted the blame for appointing Mr Suresh Kalmadi chairman of the CWG OC to the NDA regime during the tenure of which New Delhi had won the bid to host the Games.
“The host city contract, which was signed by then secretary (sports), government of India, and approved by the Cabinet of the NDA government, should ideally have been signed and approved by the secretary, government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and approved by the Cabinet of the GNCTD respectively, as is the practice with other international sporting events, including the forthcoming London Olympics,” he said.
Mr Maken, however, could not read out his entire statement and so laid the statement on the table of the House, after which the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day. Later, speaking to reporters in Parliament, he said the current PMO could do nothing regarding Mr Kalmadi’s appointment.
In the Rajya Sabha, too, the scene was no different. As soon as new AIADMK member A. William Rabi Bernard finished taking the oath, BJP member M. Venkaiah Naidu wanted to know from Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari about his party’s notice for suspension of Question Hour to discuss price rise. Dr Ansari responded by saying “the notice has not been agreed to”. Hearing this, the BJP members started raising the issue forcefully.
Despite Dr Ansari asking Opposition members to allow the House to function smoothly, some BJP members trooped into the Well while other Opposition members kept raising their demands. As the din continued, the House was adjourned till noon. When the House reassembled, the din continued but Rajya Sabha deputy chairman K. Rehman Khan ordered laying of papers listed for the day.
Mr Khan tried to pacify the members, saying their notices have already been taken up for consideration by the business advisory committee, but the members refused to relent and raised slogans seeking the resignation of the “corrupt government”.
As BJP MPs continued shouting slogans in the Well, almost the entire Opposition, including MPs from the CPI, CPI(M), AIADMK, Shiv Sena and JD-U, as well as the BSP, which is supporting the government, were on their feet.
When all efforts to bring peace in the House failed, Mr Khan adjourned the House till 2 pm. Even at 2 pm, when the House re-assembled, the Opposition MPs continued with their demand for a discussion on price rise under rules which provide for voting. This forced the Chair to adjourn the House for the day.
Meanwhile, the Left Front, along with the “non-congress, non-BJP” parties like the JD(S), AIADMK, BJD and TDP, have come together to corner the government on the issue of price rise. Indicating a division in the Opposition, the Left and other “like-minded parties” felt there cannot be any coordination with the BJP which is already in the dock over the recent happenings in Karnataka where it asked chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa to step down after he was named in the Lokayukta report on illegal mining. “No coordination is possible (with the BJP) on the issue of corruption,” CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury told a press conference. He was accompanied by the leaders of the four Left parties, the TDP, AIADMK and BJD.
The ruling Congress, however, dared the two versions of the Opposition to a debate. Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed wondered why they the Opposition wasn’t allowing the House to function smoothly. “The moot question is not the rule under which the debate will take place, rather, it is the issue that is important. Probably they are not allowing the House (to function) as they fear that once the debate takes place many skeletons in their cupboard will fall out,” he said. Asian Age