Opposition steals show in parliament on first day (Intro Roundup)

July 27th, 2010 - 9:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) Parliament got off to a stormy start on the first working day of the monsoon session Tuesday as a united opposition vociferously protested against rising prices of essential commodities and demanded as top priority a debate on the issue.
The noisy protests by the adamant opposition led to repeated disruptions and finally both houses were adjourned for the day.

As the government ruled out the opposition’s demand for adjournment motions that entail voting, opposition MPs refused to let the houses function and threatened to repeat the action Wednesday.

As soon as members assembled at 11 a.m. in both the houses, opposition MPs shouted slogans giving vent to their anger over rising prices.

In a setback to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, members of the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal RJD, which support the government from outside, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in its protests.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which has come to the rescue of the UPA in the past by voting for it on crucial issues, also joined the protests.

Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj urged Speaker Meira Kumar to “set aside all the business and accept our adjournment motions and allow a discussion over rising prices, followed by a vote”.

Swaraj said the June 26 hike in kerosene and cooking gas prices had “disturbed the budget of the common man”.

BJP and other MPs, including from the Left, Samajwadi Party and BSP walked up to the speaker’s podium shouting anti-government slogans. “Jo sarkar nikammi hai, woh sarkar badalni hai (The government that is inefficient needs to be changed)”, they shouted at the top of their voices.

The house was first adjourned till noon but the protests continued after the Lok Sabha resumed, forcing another disruption till 2 p.m.

As the members refused to relent in the post-lunch session, the speaker was forced to call it a day.

The scenes in the Rajya Sabha were no different. It was chaos as the BJP and Left MPs did not heed Chairman Hamid Ansari’s repeated pleas to let the house function.

Soon after the new members had taken oath, opposition MPs were up on their feet.

Ansari allowed Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley to speak but he could not as MPs protested noisily, forcing the chairman to adjourn the house till noon.

As the MPs reassembled, the morning scenes were replayed. P.J. Kurien, who was in the chair, adjourned the house for the day.

The government has been maintaining that it is ready for a discussion but won’t accept the adjournment motion.

The BJP said it will again give notice Wednesday in both houses of parliament for an adjournment motion under rules that entail voting. “We will bring an adjournment motion tomorrow. Nothing short of adjournment motion is acceptable,” BJP deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde said.

The government says it is ready for a discussion but cannot accept adjournment motions under rules that require voting.

That is because the government does not have adequate numbers in the upper house while in the Lok Sabha it can comfortably defeat the motion.

The government and its allies can count on 89 members and the opposition on 104 in the upper house. However, the swing votes of 51 members belonging to parties like the Samajwadi Party, the RJD and the BSP, as also smaller parties and independent and nominated members, could make a difference.

The three parties have, in the past, have sided with the government, but given the general anger over the price rise within and outside parliament, they could well decide to vote with the opposition to ensure the adjournment motion passes.

Since the voting is not on a money bill, the government would not have to resign if the motion is passed. It would, however, be a huge embarrassment for the government.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the party was pressing for discussion on price rise in parliament under rules that entail voting to put pressure on the government to take measures that provide relief to the people.

“By insisting on discussion under rules that entail voting, we intend to put pressure so that they (the government) acts,” Yechury said.

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