Having stalled proceedings in the Lok Sabha on the first day of the budget session of Parliament, the Congress has climbed down from its initial demand for admitting an adjournment motion to discuss price rise and has decided to agree to a debate under a rule that does not entail voting.
The Lok Sabha could not transact any business because of disruption by Congress members, as well as others in the Opposition, after Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected an adjournment motion notice moved by the Congress. Sources in the Congress said the party will not press for acceptance of the adjournment motion now.
Sources said Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Amarinder Singh gave a fresh notice for a discussion under Rule 193, which does not entail voting. The party will allow the presentation of the railway budget Tuesday after which it expects the discussion to take place. Mahajan had suggested the debate could be taken up under Rule 193.
While the Lok Sabha witnessed noisy scenes and multiple disruptions, the government acceded to the opposition demand for a discussion on price rise in the Rajya Sabha, suspending Question Hour. A united opposition led by the Congress attacked the government with every leader asking the BJP “where the good days (achhe din) the BJP had promised are”.
Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said 80 to 90 per cent of the votes that the BJP got came because of its campaign against the UPA government on the issue of price rise. “Your campaign was centred around price rise… every leader right of the BJP from Narendra Modi had been arguing that the Congress does not understand the plight of the poor as it does not know povert”,” Azad said.
“If the Congress did not know about poverty and if the BJP leaders had better understanding and knowledge, then why are they imposing back-breaking price rise in just one-and-a-half-month?” he said. Azad recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he was chief minister of Gujarat, had in 2012 opposed increase in railway fare and freight charges before the rail budget.
“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 the industrialists had opened their coffers to fund your election campaign… And now you are paying them back with interest,” she said.
Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien said the government was not following the Gujarat mode. “Are you really following your so-called Gujarat model or actually you are making a photocopy of the Congress model of governance which took this nation nowhere? Please course-correct now,” 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 the states.
Defending the government, 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 fixing of petrol prices on the basis on import costs and cost of production. The Samajwadi Party, AIAMDK, DMK and the NCP too hit out at the government.
The NCP’s Praful Patel said people voted the BJP to power expecting that the new government will solve all their problems with a magic wand. “Forty-five days have passed. In 45 days, you have increased prices of oil and rail fare,” he said.