Protests by opposition parties for the seventh consecutive day resulted in the adjournment of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for the day on Tuesday. The washout meant the crucial Finance Bill 2018-19 could not be taken up in the Lok Sabha in the evening as scheduled. The government’s plan to push the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill and the Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill also went awry.
The Rajya Sabha witnessed acrimonious scenes as opposition parties insisted on a discussion on the PNB fraud under a rule that entailed voting. Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu said discussions on the bank fraud have been permitted under rule 176 that provides for a member to give notice of a short duration discussion for raising a matter of urgent public importance. Opposition parties, however, wanted a discussion on the issue under rule 168/169 that requires voting on a resolution.
Naidu said the Chair was willing to allow discussion and made an appeal to the opposition parties to let the House function. “Let us put an end to this… it is my earnest appeal…. Let the House function effectively. Let us raise the level of debate,” Naidu said. Apart from the Nirav Modi case, the AIADMK demanded discussion on setting up of a Cauvery Water Management Board, while YRS Congress members protested over special category status for Andhra Pradesh.
The same script played out in the Lok Sabha as well. Both Question Hour and Zero Hour were washed out as TDP, Congress, AIADMK, TRS and Trinamool Congress members trooped into the Well, forcing Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to adjourn the proceedings for an hour. When the House resumed at noon, the situation was no better and the lower house was adjourned for the day. Most of the protesting members were heard shouting “we want justice”.
Members from TDP, which pulled out two ministers from the NDA last week, demanded special status for Andhra Pradesh and were seen holding placards that read “Follow alliance dharma”. The Congress and TMC cornered the government over the PNB fraud case and one of the members held a placard reading, “Chotta Modi kahan gaya”, in a reference to diamantaire Nirav Modi.