Chidambaram in eye of parliament storm, houses adjourned

November 22nd, 2011 - 4:24 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi, Nov 22 (IANS) Parliament got off to a stormy start Tuesday with opposition protests against Home Minister P. Chidambaram forcing adjournment of the Lok Sabha on the first day of the winter session.

The lower house was plunged into chaos soon after the session opened, with opposition MPs disregarding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s appeal for calm.

The opposition’s target was Chidambaram, for his alleged links to the 2G spectrum corruption scandal when he was finance minister from 2004 to 2008. He was prevented from speaking in the Lok Sabha.

As members assembled, Speaker Meira Kumar made obituary references to ex-members, including former union minister Vasant Sathe, who died in the past few months.

Newly-elected member Kuldeep Bishnoi of the Haryana Janhit Congress was also sworn in.

But when the speaker wanted question hour taken up, opposition members were on their feet raising various issues.

The first question of the day was to be answered by Chidambaram, who is the target of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

NDA had vowed to boycott Chidambaram in parliament and prevent him from speaking in the house.

As Chidambaram got up to table the written reply of a question on Maoist violence, BJP members shouted him down. He sat back silently without reacting to the opposition’s behaviour.

Before the two houses met, Manmohan Singh appealed for peace to allow parliament to function for the winter session which is expected to debate key bills, including the anti-graft Lokpal bill.

“I sincerely hope that all political parties will realise that we have some very important pieces of legislation which are going to be presented in this session, and our country’s sustained development and prosperity demands that many of those bills should be converted as acts of parliament,” Manmohan Singh told reporters.

“As far as the boycott (of Chidambaram) is concerned, I sincerely hope that the political parties will resist any such temptation. There is virtually no case for a boycott of the type that has been talked about in the newspapers,” he added.

The BJP-led combine wants Manmohan Singh to ask Chidambaram to resign.

Chidambaram refused a comment on the opposition strategy and silently walked out of parliament house when journalists sought his reaction.

The home minister was backed by his cabinet colleague, Law Minister Salman Khurshid. “I do not think there is any objective ground for the boycott of Chidambaram,” Khurshid told reporters.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal regretted the opposition protests saying they were not allowing discussion on crucial issues like price rise.

“Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had given notice for a statement (on inflation) today. The opposition should allow discussion, not block discussion,” he said.

The first 20 minutes of the day were peaceful as Lok Sabha members listened to the speaker expressing grief over the loss of lives in a series of tragedies in India and elsewhere.

Chidambaram’s was not the only issue that rocked the Lok Sabha. The proposed division of Uttar Pradesh, the demand for Telangana and the issue of price rise were also taken up by opposition MPs.

Amid the ruckus, the Lok Sabha was adjourned till 12 noon and then, as the din continued, for the entire day.

The Rajya Sabha was adjourned to mourn the death of two members, Ram Dayal Munda and Silvius Condpan.

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