The opposition made minor course corrections in Lok Sabha Wednesday by not insisting on an adjournment motion for a discussion on demonetisation, although it still demands a debate followed by voting. With the government refusing to agree to a debate that involves voting, the stalemate continued for the 10th day. The government maintained the people stood with the government on the actions against black money. Rejecting a debate with a vote, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said in the Lok Sabha, “It should not appear that Parliament is against the measures being taken against black money.”
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The Congress, the TMC and the Left parties, so far insisting on an adjournment motion, said Wednesday they were ready for a debate on the “issues people are facing”. The BJD, which has backed currency withdrawal, also sided with Opposition leaders while AIADMK MPs stood on their feet.
Both Houses of Parliament witnessed disrtions over a demand for obituary references to Indian soldiers killed since the strike across the LoC, including those in Nagrota, as well as those who had died in bank and ATM queues. Proceedings in Lok Sabha ended before lunch. At one stage, the Opposition walked out after I&B Minister told the Congress’s Mallikarjun Kharge, demanding the PM’s presence, that issues of national importance shouldn’t be brought under controversy.
Although Kharge, the TMC’ s Sudip Bandyopadhyay and the CPM’s Mohammad Salim suggested the Speaker can decide what rule the debate should be held under, they insisted there should be voting. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan did not make a commitment. She suggested a debate begin in zero hour and Parliament try to find “something out of the zero” as the two sides are divided on rules. “Hum shunya se karenge to, brahmand tak bhi pahunch jate hein (if we start from zero we can reach the Universe).”
Kharge and the other Opposition leaders said they backed the government’s measures against black money but argued that the House has to discuss the troubles faced by poor of the country. “Poor people are losing their lives standing in queue for Rs 2,000 notes,” Kharge said.
Asserting the Opposition would stand by the fight against black money, Bandyopadhyay wondered why the government is shy of an vote on the issue: “Why is the government, in spite of having a brute majority of more than 300 members in the House, fighting shy of going for voting? What for? That has to be clarified.”
Added Salim: “Everyone considers it a historic decision… But people are suffering. When will you accept there are deaths… the death toll has reached 80 today. What’s the point if we cannot discuss people’s troubles as Lok Sabha members. Democracy will die the day when Lok Sabha starts following the diktat of the government.”
Ananth Kumar said the government has been ready for a debate on the issue since day one but the House cannot be seen as divided on the demonetisation issue.
Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) said, “When the parliamentary affairs minister has said we cannot divide this House on black money, I would like to know who is dividing it. Neither from the Opposition nor the Leader of the Opposition nor the leader of the Trinamool is saying we want a division on black money. We are asking for a discussion on the predicament the people are facing.”
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said if the debate is about hardships faced by people, then there is no need for division of votes and the debate should start immediately.