MPs miss their chance to question government about farmers

March 3rd, 2008 - 3:36 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of P. Chidambaram

New Delhi, March 3 (IANS) After days of disrupting parliament over the issue of distress to farmers, MPs seemed to have forgotten about them Monday - not bothering to even take up a question on the relief package for farmers announced in the union budget. As the Lok Sabha met the first day after the budget presentation, in which Finance Minister P. Chidambaram announced debt relief worth Rs.600 billion to farmers, MPs missed their chance to question the government about the package.

This, notwithstanding that the first question listed in Monday’s starred questions - those which are taken up for oral answers in the house - was to seek details of the new package for the farmers and the steps taken to ensure that farmers were not deprived of loan schemes of the government.

However, as the house met, four Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) MPs - K. Chandrashekhar Rao, B. Vinod Kumar, Ravinder Naik Dharavath and T. Madhusudhan Reddy - walked out of the house after announcing their resignation in protest against the delay in the creation of a separate Telangana state.

Although Prabodh Panda of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Chinta Mohan of the Congress, who raised the question, wanted to take up the issue, many were not willing to do so.

Prabhunath Singh of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) wanted Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to take up the tirade against north Indians in Maharashtra by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).

Chatterjee allowed him to raise the matter. After Prabhunath Singh made his speech, criticising the Congress party for not protecting people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in the Congress-ruled state, many others wanted to join him.

Devendra Prasad Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) made a long speech over the issue, forcing the speaker to request to him repeatedly to wind up.

Young Congress MP Naveen Jindal, apparently getting impatient and restless over the delay in picking up the question, was seen standing up repeatedly pleading with the speaker. He was seen pointing towards the first question - on farmers.

But the discussions over the MNS’ attack on north Indians continued almost till noon, when the speaker had to adjourn the house as Shiv Sena leader Anant Geete’s provocative remarks created pandemonium.

The priorities appeared different in the morning. Before the house met, MPs belonging to the third front - United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) - held a demonstration outside parliament demanding that all the farmers who had suffered loses due to natural calamities should also be extended relief.

The UNPA raised the same demand in the Rajya Sabha and disrupted proceedings. Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.R. Dasmunsi appealed to them to go to their seats.

JD-U Sharad Yadav also suggested that UNPA MPs could take up the matter during a discussion on the budget. However, UNPA MPs walked out of the house.

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