March 10, 2021 2:56:23 am
The Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha were adjourned without transacting any substantial business as Opposition protests over rising fuel prices and the ongoing farmers’ agitation rocked Parliament for the second day on Tuesday.
With campaigning for Assembly elections underway in four states and a Union territory, the Opposition parties led by the Congress wanted a discussion on the increase in fuel prices in a bid to score a political point against the BJP government but their demand was not accepted, triggering ruckus in both the Houses and leading to multiple adjournments.
There was commotion in Rajya Sabha from the word go. Four MPs – Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, BSP’s Satish Chandra Misra, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, and Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi – had given notices seeking suspension of all business to discuss the price hike.
Deputy Chairman Harivansh maintained that Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has already rejected the notices under rule 267 and they cannot be reopened. He said the issue of fuel price can be deliberated upon during the discussion on the working of ministries and finance Bills as also in the short-duration discussion sought on the issue.
Opposition members, including DMK’s Siva, argued that a hike in the prices of petrol and diesel is “disturbing the people very much” and “when the Parliament is in Session, we have to discuss”. He said “even if the regular Business is to be taken up, it could be only when the House is in order. The Members are disturbed and they are asking, what happened to notice that we have given under Rule 267?”
Kharge said the Chairman’s ruling was on notices given on Monday. “We have nothing to say on that…we accepted that….But we have given fresh notices today.”
With the Chair not permitting a discussion, Opposition members resorted to slogan shouting resulting in two adjournments in the pre-lunch session.
The situation was no different when the House reassembled at 2 pm. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad moved the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill 2021 and insisted that it be taken up for discussion and passage. The Bill seeks to replace an ordinance in this regard and has already been passed by the Lok Sabha.
Kharge said people are fed up with the rise in prices of petrol, diesel, LPG and kerosene. “The prices of essential commodities have also shot up,” he said. When the Deputy Chairman urged the Opposition to cooperate in passage of the Bill arguing that the House is not sitting on March 11 and 12 and the ordinance, which the Bill seeks to replace, will lapse on March 12, Kharge said, “We are not blocking the passage of any Bills. We are only saying that the hardships faced by the people should be discussed here and the government take a decision after hearing all sides.”
Law Minister Prasad urged Kharge to allow passage of the Bill, but the Opposition did not relent.
As the Chair urged the members to allow the House to run, Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma said that the tradition of the House is that no government Bill is taken up when the Opposition is demanding a discussion on an issue. “When an issue is before the House…no government business or Bill is taken up until the issue is resolved. That has been the tradition of this House. The tradition of the House is being repeatedly violated. It is unfortunate. It is the Opposition’s right to raise issues,” he said.
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