Amid hunt for middle ground in Lok Sabha, Opposition complains to President Pranab Mukherjee

In a meeting with Sumitra Mahajan, Congress and Trinamool leaders reiterated their stand that there could only be discussion followed by voting.

Written by Abantika Ghosh , Manoj C G | New Delhi | Updated: December 2, 2016 2:05 pm
demonetisation, demonetisation debate, demonetisation corruption, black money, lok sabha, winter session, sumitra mahajan, pranab mukherjee, congress, trinamool congress, indian express news, india news President Pranab Mukherjee.

Opposition parties in Lok Sabha will submit to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan Friday a draft formulation of the motion on demonetisation that they want discussed.

In a meeting with Mahajan Thursday, Congress and Trinamool leaders reiterated their stand that there could only be discussion followed by voting. The same evening, leaders of 16 Opposition parties met President Pranab Mukherjee seeking his intervention on the way the government pushed the taxation laws amendment bill through Lok Sabha, without debate or allowing time to move amendments.

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On demonetisation, the government has said it would not allow an adjournment motion under rule 56 – which also has a quality of censure. Congress and Trinamool leaders stressed the only rule under which a discussion can take place, therefore, is rule 184 that does not need the consent of the government and is subject to the discretion of the Speaker. Under the rule voting has to take place the same day. Rule 56 requires the consent of the government.

“The Speaker had asked us Wednesday to submit a draft to her of the motion that we want discussed… We will give it tomorrow but if the government is clear that the discussion cannot happen under rule 56, we are also clear that it will not happen under rule 193 which has no provision for voting. The only way now is under rule 184,” said an Opposition MP.

On Thursday, the Speaker reminded MPs that BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab has already submitted a notice submitted under rule 193 and reportedly told them more than 300 MPs want a discussion under this rule. The Opposition MPs, however, insisted on discussion with voting.

“Pushing for a debate under 193 just because it suits the government by completely disregarding Opposition sentiments is hardly fair, and we told her so,” said an MP.

When they met the President, the discussion was confined to violation of parliamentary procedures, said Rahul Gandhi (Congress) who led the delegation. Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay were part of the delegation, which complained about MPs’ “democratic rights” being “trampled upon” by a “brute and authoritarian government”.

“The voice of the people is being suppressed across the country and now it is being done in Parliament blatantly. The people are scared… We told the President that parliamentary procedures have not been followed [in pushing the bill],” Rahul said, after the delegation had submitted a joint memorandum.

“… The legitimate democratic rights of the members were denied on the ground that the bill being very important and urgent and there was no time to wait for the President’s assent. There is no provision for dispensation of the requirement of the President’s assent under the veil of any grounds. This is not permissible in law and amounts to undermining the authority of the President of India,” the memorandum said.