Uproar over price rise stalls parliament (Roundup)

July 27th, 2010 - 5:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) Pandemonium reigned in parliament Tuesday - the first working day of the monsoon session - as a united opposition vociferously demanded an immediate discussion on rising prices followed by a vote, leading to repeated disruptions and finally adjournments of both houses.
As the government ruled out the voting on the spiralling prices of essential commodities, opposition MPs refused to let the houses function.

As soon as members in the two houses assembled at 11 a.m., opposition MPs shouted slogans, stalling proceedings as they gave vent to their anger on the issue.

Members of the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal RJD, which support the government from the outside, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in demanding a discussion on the hike in prices of kerosene and cooking gas.

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”.

The entire opposition, she said, had come together to demand a discussion on the issue and pointed out that some allies of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) have joined them.

BJP MPs, joined by members of other parties like the Left, walked up to the speaker’s podium shouting anti-government slogans like “Jo sarkar nikammi hai, woh sarkar badalni hai (The government that is inefficient needs to be changed)”.

The house was first adjourned till 12 noon but the protests continued after the house resumed.

In the melee, the speaker ordered papers listed for the day to be laid and asked Petroleum Minister Murli Deora to make a statement on the prices of petroleum products.

Deora defended the increase in fuel prices, saying the rise was “minimal” and such a decision was needed to improve the financial health of the oil marketing companies.

As he was unable to read out the statement amid the noise, Meira Kumar adjourned the house at 12.10 till 2 p.m.

As the members refused to relent after the house resumed at 2 p.m., 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 house function.

Soon after new members took oath, opposition MPs were up on their feet.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was joined by the Samajwadi Party and AIADMK MPs in their protest.

Ansari allowed Leader of the 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, it was repetition of what had happened in the morning.

P.J. Kurien, who was in the chair, tried to pacify the members and asked ministers to lay the papers listed for the day. With the din continuing, Kurien adjourned the house for the day.

BJP leaders said the opposition was united over the price rise issue as the Left, the Samajwadi Party and other parties were with them.

“We are united. We want an adjournment motion and a vote on the issue,” BJP leader Gopinath Munde told IANS.

“We will bring the adjournment motion, we will not discuss anything else,” he said.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which in the past has come to the rescue of the government by voting for it on crucial matters, also demanded a discussion and voting on the price rise.

The government has already ruled out the demand, saying that as per rules only matters of immediate and urgent attention can be allowed under an adjournment motion.

“This is disruption motion, it is not discussion motion,” senior Congress leader and Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters.

Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Sharad Yadav said it was “strange” that government was not ready for a discussion.

He said the opposition was keen that Meira Kumar took an impartial view on its demand.

“The entire country took part in the Bharat bandh against price rise,” he said, referring to the July 5 nationwide shutdown against the issue.

“The fight will continue,” he vowed.

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