Having stalled the first day’s proceedings in the Lok Sabha, the Congress has climbed down from its push for an adjournment motion on price rise and will settle instead for a debate under a rule that does not entail voting.
Party sources said they will not press that the Speaker admit their motion. They said their deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, Amarinder Singh, has given a fresh notice for a discussion under Rule 193, which does not entail voting. They expect the discussion to take place after the rail budget is presented.
In the Rajya Sabha, the government acceded to the opposition demand for a discussion on price rise, suspending question hour. A united opposition led by the Congress attacked the government with every leader asking the BJP “where the good days the BJP had promised are”.
After the government responded, the Congress, BSP, SP and Trinamool Congress MPs walked out but Sharad Pawar and others of UPA constituent the NCP stayed on, along with DMK MPs. NCP leader Praful Patel later hinted at a lack of communication from the Congress. “Issues before Parliament must be discussed beforehand. You cannot decide at the last minute,” Patel said, adding there had been no meeting of UPA leaders before the session.
During the discussion in the Rajya sabha, Patel had attacked the government saying, “In 45 days, you have increased prices of oil and rail fares.”.
Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said 80 to 90 per cent of the votes the BJP got came because of its campaign against the UPA on price rise. “Every leader of the BJP, right from Narendra Modi, had been arguing that the Congress does not understand the plight of the poor as it does not know poverty. If the Congress did not know about poverty and if BJP leaders had a better understanding, why are they imposing backbreaking price rise in just one-and-a-half-months?” he said. Azad recalled that in 2012, when Modi was chief minister of Gujarat, had opposed an increase in railway fare and freight charges. “In two years what has changed?” Azad said.
BSP leader Mayawati said the BJP government cannot crack down on hoarders despite its “tall talk” because “people say BJP is a party of the business class”. “The business class and industrialists had opened their coffers to fund your election campaign… And now you are paying them back with interest,” she said.
The Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien said the government was not following the Gujarat model. “Are you really following your so-called Gujarat model or actually are you making a photocopy of the Congress model of governance which took this nation nowhere?” he said. He said the government, by not defining hoarding in the Essential Commodities Act, is in a sneaky way passing the burden on to states.
Defending the government, the BJP’s Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the government inherited an economy in tatters and the legacy of price rise from the UPA government, triggering a counterattack from the Opposition. The CPM’s Sitaram Yechury said it was not a relay race where the baton passes from one side to another. He said the BJP government has simply not fulfilled its election promises.
He said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, when he was the leader of the opposition, had agreed that there was a need to ban futures trading in essential commodities. He said Jaitley should now ban forward and futures trading of essential commodities, release buffer stock of foodgrains beyond stock norms in open market at BPL prices and fix petrol prices on the basis on import costs and cost of production.