Rajya Sabha saw a washout once again on Thursday due to Opposition protests over demonetisation and the resultant clashes with members of the ruling side. The Upper House was adjourned twice during the pre-lunch period and then finally for the day a few minutes after it reassembled at 2 PM, ensuring that no work was transacted for the 15th consecutive working day.
Trouble started soon after the House met for the day. No sooner were the listed papers laid, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (Trinamool Congress) said 115 people have lost their lives in 30 days since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced junking of old 500 and 1000 rupee notes. Their death should be mourned in the House, he said.
Even before he could finish, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu was up on his feet saying “this is politics. Let there be a discussion (on the issue)… November 8 (when the demonetisation was announced) is a historic day.” When Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad was asked by the Chair to speak as requested by him, Naidu protested, saying the Opposition had been using the tactic of slamming the government and then creating ruckus when someone from the government spoke to ensure that its views are not heard.
He asked the Chair to give protection to the ruling side. Azad then said more than 100 farmers, women, youth and elderly persons have lost their lives in last one month due to hardships caused from wrong policies of the government.
“We wanted this House to mourn their death but the government has refused an obituary reference,” he said. Ruling side members, in turn, shouted slogans demanding resumption of debate on demonetisation which was initiated on the first day of the ongoing Winter session on November 16.
Azad said it was a “shameful” act of the government that instead of mourning the death, it is adding salt to the injury.
People do not have money and the government says there is enough currency in circulation, the senior Congress leader said, adding “this is the limit of shamelessness.” At this point, Finance Minister and Leader of the House Arun Jaitley got up to reply but opposition members began raising slogans. They were countered by slogan shouting from the BJP benches.
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Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the unfinished discussion on demonetisation should resume immediately.
Soon after the House reassembled at noon, Congress started raising slogans and repeated efforts by Chairman Hamid Ansari to restore order in the Upper House did not yield result and he adjourned the House till 1400 hrs.
When the House met again at 2 PM, Congress and JD(U) raised strong objections to reduction of import duty on wheat from 10 per cent to nil, terming the step as anti-farmer and a conspiracy.
They also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying decisions were being made outside Parliament when it is in session.
Digvijay Singh (Cong) raised objections soon after Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal tabled the notification on import duty cut. He was followed by Sharad Yadav (JD-U).
Ansari then asked members to continue the debate on demonetisation to which the opposition responded with a resounding no. They then started shouting slogans and the House weas adjourned for the day.