IT WAS the Opposition who called for a debate on demonetisation in Lok Sabha Wednesday but the Speaker turned down the demand. The Opposition has climbed down from its demand for an adjournment motion to a debate with no rule.
The House was disrupted again as the Opposition took up a controversy around minister Kiren Rijijju while the treasury benches counterattacked with the AgustaWestland scam and a TV sting that purportedly showed an exchange of old currency for new at Congress headquarters.
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NCP MP Tariq Anwar gave a notice for an adjournment motion on the Rijijju controversy while others wanted a debate on the hardships faced by people due to demonetisation. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan disallowed the adjournment motion notices as well as the debate.
Congress and TMC MPs did not enter the well while CPM MPs did. Some treasury benchers too were on their feet. The Speaker adjourned the proceedings at 11.04 am.
At noon, amid repeated demands from the Opposition that they would debate demonetisation issue without any rule, the Speaker refused and took up zero hour. The Opposition booed when Rijijju rose to lay the papers listed against his name. Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said he wanted to speak on hardships faced by people; Mahajan said she would allow him too to speak. She then called the BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab to raise his concerns over defence purchases in the wake of the arrest of former Air Chief S P Tyagi in the AgustaWestland case. Mahtab attacked both the previous UPA government and the current NDA dispensation of having “slept over” the case.
When Kharge started speaking, the Speaker insisted that the Congress MPs standing in the well go back to their seats. When Kharge protested, the Speaker said the Congress leader’s remarks would not go on record.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar criticised Kharge’s remarks. “It is a very sad day. The leader of the Opposition is challenging the Speaker,” Kumar said.
Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram introduced a bill seeking to transfer certain communities from the list of SCs to that of STs.
Outside, both sides continued their blame game after the House was adjourned without any major business. The winter session closes Friday.