Equating the situation in the country post demonetisation with an “atmosphere of hunger death” and “worse than Emergency”, Opposition parties forced repeated adjournments in Rajya Sabha for the 13th straight day Monday. Two members said that the government’s decision has “crippled” the nation and made the entire population “disabled”.
Question hour and zero hour once again became the casualty in the Upper House. However, the government could introduce a bill, which the Opposition did not allow to pass, in the second half before the House was adjourned for the day. This was the third adjournment today.
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Alleging that salaried persons are not getting salaries and pensioners their pension, SP member Naresh Agrawal said, “There is an atmosphere of hunger death (bhookhmari ka mahaul ho gaya hai).”
The BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra said the situation is “worse than Emergency” while CPM member Tapan Kumar Sen insisted the situation calls for immediate action. Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad asked whether there is a “financial emergency” in the country.
Opposition members chanted, “Narendra Modi haajir ho, logon ka paisa, logon ko do and hosh mein aao, Hosh mein aao, pradhan mantri House mein aao.” The treasury benches countered, “We want discussion.
Amid the noise, the chair kept urging th”e members to allow the House to function and raise their concerns through debate but to no avail.
Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu asked the Opposition members why they were “running away” from debate.
Azad said, “The government employees and pensioners are not getting their salaries. Thee is no cash in ATMs even on the Parliament complex. When we are not getting money from ATMs in Parliament, how do we expect it outside? It seems there is a financial emergency.”
Acknowledging that it is a “serious issue”, deputy chairman P J Kurien urged members to resume the discussion saying this is the “only remedy”.
With members not relenting, Kurien said, “This is not the way. There is anarchy in the House. Slogan shouting is no solution. You will get certain headlines in newspapers and nothing more.”
In the afternoon, Samajwadi Party’s Naresh Agarwal said he went to the Air India office where he was surrounded by employees to complain that they have not been paid salaries. “An explosive situation has developed,” he said raising the issue of government employees not being paid salaries following demonetisation of old high denomination currency last month.
Several Opposition members also stood up and started speaking. Congress members were heard shouting slogans like ‘Janta Ka Paisa Janta Ko Do’
Amid noise, Kurien allowed Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot to move ‘The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014’ for passage.
Kurien sought cooperation from the protesting members for passage of the bill saying it is a “non-controversial” legislation and should be approved. The Bill could not be passed amid the din.
“You honourable members, you are shouting. You should not do so,” Kurien said in an attempt to restore order in the House as Congress members raised slogans from the well.
Kurien also warned Sasikala Pushpa, expelled from AIADMK, for carrying a placard with message ‘Save Our Amma’.
Referring to the non-payment of salaries to employees, the Congress’ deputy Leader of the Opposition Anand Sharma said “over the weekend, the situation has worsened”.
He said a large number of people have lost jobs following government’s “disastrous mismanagement” of demonetisation and asked the Centre to “rectify” the “suffering inflicted” by the government on the people.