Price rise ghost continues to haunt parliament, both houses adjourned (Roundup)

July 28th, 2010 - 5:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Meira Kumar New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) Chaos, protests, slogan-shouting, disruptions and finally adjournment - the scenes in parliament Wednesday were no different from what it was like the day before, and at the centre of the monsoon storm were the spiralling prices of essential commodities.
Both houses of parliament were adjourned for the day for the second consecutive day without conducting any business due to protests by opposition members who adamantly demanded an adjournment motion that entails voting to “censure” the government over the rising prices.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar rejected the demands, as did her Rajya Sabha counterpart Hamid Ansari, inviting an angry reaction and loud protests from a united opposition.

“The adjournment is always admitted on the failure of the government to perform its duty enjoined by the constitution and the law…that is the not the case here,” Meira Kumar told the house after a nearly one-and-a-half hour debate on whether the matter could not be discussed under an adjournment motion.

“I appreciate the concerns of honorable members. It is a matter of concern to the chair also…the house certainly needs to debate it but adjournment motion is not permissible,” Meira Kumar said, prompting noisy protests.

Amid a ruckus, the speaker adjourned the house for the day, less than 10 minutes after it resumed at 2 p.m. following the lunch break.

The Left parties threatened to hold a sit-in at Parliament House Thursday. Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Gurudas Das Gupta criticised Meira Kumar for her “invalid assessment” of the situation and disallowing the adjournment motion.

“We will continue our agitation both inside and outside parliament. We will hold a sit-in,” Das Gupta said, a sentiment echoed by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Basudeb Acharia.

The speaker permitted a debate on admitting the motion after a brief commotion and protests as the house assembled in the morning.

Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj was the first to justify her notice, saying “it was cent percent according to the house rules”.

“The adjournment motion that entails voting means stopping all other businesses and discussing an issue of urgent importance that has occurred recently. I have raised two points… recent hikes in (the prices of) kerosene and the cooking gas,” Swaraj said.

The June 26 fuel price hike had put the poor of the country into “grave hardships”, she said, adding the opposition wanted to “censure” the government over its wrong pricing policies “because they are troubling the common man”.

Intervening, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee welcomed a discussion on the rising prices which, he said, was not a government failure.

Unless the central government “fails to discharge its duties enjoined by the constitution and the law”, the matter could not be discussed under the adjournment motion, Mukherjee, who is the leader of the house, maintained.

Other MPs who spoke on the notices included Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U)Lalu Prasad Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Das Gupta and Acharia.

The heat over spiralling food prices also forced two adjournments of the Rajya Sabha with angry opposition MPs putting forth the same demands.

The house saw vociferous protests from the entire opposition as soon as it assembled at 11 a.m., with some members of the ruling party countering that question hour should proceed on schedule. In the midst of the din, Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the house till 12 noon.

As soon as the house reassembled, chants of “168″ - the rule under which the opposition wants to move an adjournment motion - were heard.

Though the entire opposition was demanding a discussion on the price rise, the divide between the Bhartiya Janata Party and the Left and other non-National Democratic Alliance (NDA) parties was visible as their slogans were at variance, with each trying to outshout the other.

CPI-M member Brinda Karat animatedly suggested slogans to her party colleges, asking them to raise their pitch to be more audible. The Left was also joined by RJD members.

Amidst the din, Deputy Chairman K. Rahaman Khan called for papers to be laid on the table before adjourning the house for the day.

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