The first week of the Monsoon Session of Parliament ended in a washout on Friday with the government and Opposition refusing to blink over the demand for resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Under relentless attack from the Congress, the ruling BJP too went on the offensive, both inside and outside Parliament. BJP MPs staged a protest in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue before the House met at 11 am.
Once inside, they were on their feet, prompting Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad in Rajya Sabha to accuse them of being a “stumbling block” in functioning of Parliament — a charge that is usually reserved by the ruling side for the opposition.
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While Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned Lok Sabha within minutes amidst sloganeering from treasury and opposition benches, Rajya Sabha witnessed multiple adjournments.
Congress members, waving placards, trooped into the Well just as the Question Hour was taken up in Lok Sabha. “You don’t want to raise issues… you don’t want to take part in the proceedings,” Mahajan said before adjourning the House for the day five minutes after it had assembled.
Trouble started in Rajya Sabha as soon as procedural formalities of laying of papers was over.
As Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi began reading out the list of government business for next week, Samajwadi Party’s Naresh Agarwal raised the issue of Lokpal Bill. To counter the opposition, BJP members too indulged in slogan shouting and were seen standing in the aisle.
“The ruling party has become a stumbling block in the functioning of the House,” Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said at one point in time, triggering angry reactions from the treasury benches. Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Piyush Goyal got up and blamed the opposition for the stalemate, provoking the Congress members who immediately moved into the aisles, raising slogans.
As the ruling side and the opposition indulged in slogan shouting, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said, “Why is the treasury bench creating problem?” JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav said it was “unprecedented” for the ruling party members to sit on a dharna in front of the Gandhi statue. Taking a dig at the BJP, he said, “Ruling parties, all over the world, have never sat on dharna… Who are they asking (for help)? Is it the Almighty?”
Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma alleged that the attitude of “those who used to talk big about corruption has changed after coming to power”, while his party colleague Satyavrat Chaturvedi said the opposition has been raising “a matter of importance and a fundamental question”.
Amidst the din, the Upper House, by a voice vote, allowed Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to withdraw the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015 before being adjourned till Monday.